10 New Fintech Companies To Watch Out For! (Plus Highlights From FinCon 2017)

fincon17 - dallas

What up, y’all! Just got back and sobered up from our financial blogging conference, and thought I’d share some of the highlights from it.

Namely, the handful of new financial companies that were part of our yearly fintech competition I helped judge! It’s always so interesting to see how people use technology to solve our problems out there, and just like last year’s competition this one did not disappoint.

But first, gotta give it up to PT Money for organizing this amazing event each and every year (it was my 7th one attending!), as well as to all the other bloggers who volunteered their time to make it happen. If you’re a $$$ blogger or podcaster or just plain obsessed with personal finance, you NEED to come out to it one year and experience what it’s all about! I promise you will leave incredibly motivated or I will shut down this blog forever 😉 (Or at least buy you a beer to cry into – hah)

So what happened at FinCon 2017?

Here are a few of the more exciting highlights… Because good luck telling social media people that what happens at FinCon stays at FinCon! 😉

Rapper Dee-1 crowd surfed while rapping his hit song, Sally Mae Back (Crowd surfed! At a financial blogging conference!)

Best selling author David Bach (of Automatic Millionaire fame) popped in to share his wild story on getting on Oprah for the first time, and how the Latte Factor is “not about the damn lattes!” Haha… Rebuking the hate he so often gets when people say they will never give up their coffees no matter how sexy compound interest is 😉 He may or may not have also dropped a few F bombs on stage showing that he is definitely not one of the more stuffier financial “experts” out there. Super cool to run into him around 1 am on the last night too to talk shop! (Interesting fact: he’s fairly short)

Darren Rowse shared his story of how he became one of the world’s first professional bloggers when one of his camera reviews went viral over night. He’d later go on to start two majorly successful blogs, including the one most bloggers are familiar with and learn from: ProBlogger.com

Chris Guillebeau of The $100 Startup and The Art of Non-Comformity talked about how it’s perfectly okay to let a side hustle be just that – a side hustle! There’s no rule that you need to turn it into a full-time job if you’re perfectly happy with your current one. Just let it be your creative outlet while you bring home some extra side money! (I agree with this 100%!! Not all of us are born to run companies!!)

Cait Flanders held a presentation on writing Rockstar content that was packed solid which we think/hope went over pretty well! Interweaving the back story of Rockstar Finance and how it’s evolved over the years as well. (Cait curates it with me, and is one of my favorite bloggers on the scene)

A bunch of people from our community created a parody of “The Office” which was shown at our annual blogger award ceremony and was downright HILARIOUS. Then ended with a surprise performance from American Idol contestant Dalton Rapattoni! (It was all about the music this year, haha… Thx for putting it together, Scott Alan Turner!)

And lastly – we had one pretty damn fun Halloween party to wrap up the conference! Erik from The Mastermind Within said it best: “it was hilarious to see people with $1 million+ net worth’s singing Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back”.” Haha… That’s how we roll! If you can’t live it up, what’s the point of all that money??

As for the best costume of the night? I gave it to this guy. Can you tell why? 😉

j. money costume

(full back story here – he totally shaved his head for this!!)

Other interesting gems pertaining to yours truly: I randomly got interviewed in the bathroom, and I was  presented with the International Blogger of The Year award from UK’s SHOMO awards. Where I then made an acceptance speech that included “Long live the queen!” which I thought was pretty clever? 😉

Now to the Fintech Competition, and the 10 new financial companies to watch out for!

As I mentioned, I was one of the two judges for it again this year, where our ratings made up for 50% of the votes with the audiences’ making up the other 50%. We awarded two prizes for the night – $1,000 for first and $500 for 2nd – and below are my honest opinions of each, along with what they do. I’m not getting compensated by anyone listed here, and there are no affiliate links included at all.

Follow along and see if you can guess who won! 🙂 In no particular order:

agreeable app

Agreeable (AgreeableApp.com) — Agreeable was one of my favorite apps who presented, and was built to help solve the problem of no shows whenever you go to meet someone off Craigslist or Facebook. Whereas currently you’re just $hit out of both luck and time when the buyer/seller doesn’t show up, with this app you’d actually get *paid* an agreed upon amount if anyone bails, ensuring that it’s in both parties’ interests to make the scheduled time. There were some privacy concerns I first had with this as it tracks both of your locations to confirm that the two sides made it to the meet-up okay, but after talking w/ one of the founders at a party afterwards I was impressed with their patent-pending solution to this. We’ll see if this puppy takes off, but I’m personally rooting for it to! (Also can be used for soooo many other areas in life too – imagine if Comcast or other services were forced to pay you if they never show up when they’re supposed to?? We’d all be rich! ;))

birch finance

Birch Finance (BirchFinance.com) — This app was another killer idea, which I SWORE already existed but I guess not (a good sign that they’re onto something!). Basically, you tell Birch what credit cards you have and use, and then it’ll analyze them as you’re out shopping and tell you which ones to use to reap the *best* rewards, as well as *how much* you’ll get back by them, rather than you having to guess all the time. It’ll then show you other cards out in the market, and compare what would have happened had you used *those* cards instead of the ones you currently have. And since it’s all based on your specific transactions and spending patterns, you can see first hand exactly what your cards – or future cards – are worth to you. A pretty epic tool for any card hackers/lovers. (I’ll never use it since I’m a minimalist with just my one USAA card, but I’d be allll on it if I were in the rewards game!)

budgit app logo

Budgit (BudgitApp.com) — Budgit is an automated budgeting and savings service that organizes your bills and spending so you can save for your goals. I tried real hard to figure out how these guys were different from all the other budgeting apps out there – and even posed the question during Q&A time – but even after doing so I was honestly still just as confused. They actually have this question posed word for word at the bottom of their website (“How is Budgit different?”) but the 3 answers given were “No ads ever”, “Hassle-free”, and “Secure and private.” Which I’m pretty sure most apps are?? All that said, as a budget guy I don’t think you can have *too many* apps out there spreading the good word, so I very much wish them all the luck and success as they can get. (PS: This app is not the same one as BudgIT)

college backer logo

College Backer (CollegeBacker.com) — These guys were pretty cool as they help get people to gift their child 529 contributions instead of more toys and “stuff.” Something I very much try to do every year too and rarely succeed! 😉 And while like Budgit I couldn’t pin point how exactly this service is different than the others out there on the scene (there’s quite a few who let families and friends jump in to make this happen), I did like the general purpose of it and hope they take me up on my recommendation to pair these gifts with some sort of physical item too so the kids don’t totally hate opening up the gift of 529 funding, haha…

honeyfi app

Honeyfi (Honeyfi.com) — Honeyfi is a new app *for couples* that makes sharing your budget and managing your money much easier together. Which I absolutely love! Honeyfi allows you to collaborate, link accounts, and even message each other at any time through the app so everyone in the relationship can be on the exact same page. There’s not many apps I can think of that focuses mainly on couples (actually, I can’t think of one?), so I’m really hoping this one takes off as I think they’re onto something good here… Budgets are even sexier with TWO people are involved!! 😉

kinfo social investing app

KINFO (GoKINFO.com) — KINFO is an app for DIY investors that brings together information from hedge funds, insiders, analysts, bloggers and other private investors so you can see what everyone else is doing along side you. Particularly bloggers which the founder seems most excited about as it helps put all of our personal recommendations into one spot for people. Though as many of you know mine would look pretty boring as it would only show one fund: VTSAX 🙂 I’m not sure if looking at what others is doing adds more or less noise into the decision making process (probably more?), but then again I was influenced to go All In with Vanguard from my peers so it could prove to be a pretty helpful resource.

squeeze logo

Squeeze (Squeeze.com) — Squeeze is an app that helps you save by finding the best deals, promo codes, and coupons directly related to your current spending. It sounded a lot like the others in the field so I had a hard time putting them into their own special bucket, but needless to say you can’t have too many coupons in this hyper consumer world of ours… And as for branding, they absolutely NAILED it. Some of the other fintech names were pretty random!

take command health

Take Command Health (TakeCommandHealth.com) — These guys won my personal award for the best presentation, if only for the inclusion of photoshopped Trump and Obama pics littered throughout 🙂 But their app was def. no joke. In a nutshell, Take Command helps you easily find the best option for health coverage by using big data to help source the best, and cheapest, health care options for you both on and off the exchange. They also shared the release of their small business feature which helps companies offer better and cheaper plans to their employees as well – something that many places are struggling hard with right now. So while the topic of health insurance typically doesn’t turn heads (at least for good reasons!), these guys had our immediate attention and I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if they hit a home run with this.

qoins logo

Qoins (Qoins.io) — Do these guys look familiar?? They should! I featured them here last year the second I came across them because they’re the FIRST to finally apply “rounding up” technology to debt!!! Which is something severely lacking in our industry… And while I had to recuse myself from voting on this one since I was definitely biased (they donated $$$ to our Community Fund over at Rockstar Finance), I was beyond pleased to see them here and thought they gave a great presentation. You can find my review of them here (I was the first ever blogger to share them!) but in a nutshell they round up all your transactions to the nearest dollar, and then uses the spare change to help pay off your debt every month. It won’t clear all of it, but every $30 or $40/mo helps!

wizefi logo

WizeFi (Wizefi.com) — WizeFi is a paid app ($8/mo) that helps organize your finances, analyzing everything from your assets and liabilities to your insurance and spending habits. Once hooked up it’ll then estimate your future net worth if you continue spending the way you’re currently spending, and then compare it to your future net worth if you follow your custom WizeFi wealth-building plan. It comes with a super slick interface and the focus on net worth of course turned me on, but at the end of the day not too sure that alone is worth the $8. Especially since it doesn’t physically *move* the money for you like Digit or Acorns does and still requires you to take action (which most people won’t). I was also turned off by the mentions of an affiliate program for customers to make more money, both in the presentation as well as on their website (it’s prominently listed as the #3 reason to sign up?!), even though I’m sure the founder meant well. Overall would have been better if you had the chance to test out a free version, with an option to upgrade later to “pro” or something similar if interested…

Alright… Ready to guess who won?? Any really stand out to you??

Here were the 1st and 2nd place winners after all the votes were tallied up:

  1. Birch Finance
  2. Take Command Health

Honestly though, ALL of these guys came out winning as they not only got to pitch in front of tons of $$$ influencers and enthusiasts, but also landed on this illustrious blog here!!! Haha… Surely that’s worth at *least* $10.00 right? 😉

So congrats to everyone who participated. I wish I were smart enough to come up with my own money app! If you want to take a look at last year’s competition and results, you can find that here: Fintech Competition 2016

Next Year’s FinCon Event…

If you can believe it, plans are already in the works for next year’s conference! If you’ve always wanted to visit Orlando, Florida – now’s your chance! We’ll be partying it up with Mickey next year 🙂 More details to come…

fincon 18 - orlando

So there we are – another great conference on the books 🙂 THANK YOU thank you THANK YOU to everyone who came out and put up with me over the weekend! It was a blast hanging out with my 2nd family in the flesh, and I wish you all a most successful next year.

Special shout out to the following who really made me smile throughout: Chelsea Norton, Cait Flanders, Steve AdcockJim $, Shin, Bobby Lee, Pete McPherson, Latoya Scott, Fritz, Hélène, Hannah Rounds, the Tiller Team, Miss Mazuma, Optimal Finance Daily, John and Sharon Duffy, Shannon Austin, The Dumpster Dog, Miss Thrifty, Maria Nedeva, FIREcracker, and Romeo Jeremiah.

See y’all in another 11 months!

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/10-new-fintech-companies-fincon-competition/

How artists and designers are “materialising the Internet”


Joshua Citarella & Brad Troemel, Ultraviolet Production House, 2015 – ongoing. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke, The 3D Additivist Cookbook, 2016. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

We have transferred almost every single aspect of our daily life onto the internet. Our heartbeats, our bank payments, our musical taste and even our family memories. A group show curated by Nadine Roestenburg and Angelique Spaninks at MU artspace in Eindhoven invites us to do the opposite journey and explore the physical manifestations of the Web.

Materialising the Internet demonstrates that returning to the physical doesn’t bring us back to our starting point. New forms, new aesthetics and gestures emerge as we return to the material, as the digital becomes tangible.

I left Amsterdam and spent 3 hours in public transport just to see this exhibition. I’m so glad i did because the show is a joy! Materialising the Internet is witty, stimulating and entertaining. But if you want to dig deeper, you can also find insight and layers in the exhibition. The various artworks highlight issues such as the potential of the Internet in regards to artistic production and cultural memory, the control that Silicon Valley giants exercises over our lives, the ephemerality of communication tools, the superstitions that surround the most sophisticated pieces of engineering, etc.

Here’s a very quick and partial tour of the show:


Jip de Beer, Web Spaces, 2016-2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Jip de Beer, Web Spaces, 2016-2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Jip de Beer showing some of his models to the next web

In his series Web Spaces, Jip de Beer literally unfolds the structure of the internet homepages and reveals their hidden hierarchies and three dimensional layers.

His work maps the support structure underneath the architecture of Facebook, Google, Amazon and other famous domains.

MU shows both the interactive installation and the 3d printed models of the websites. The screen installation allows you to a walk around the virtual 3D representation of a particular page while the stunning models of 3 of the most popular websites demonstrate what their physical volumes looks like. The architectures of the websites are incredibly different from one another. Google, unsurprisingly, distinguishes itself by the complexity of its search bar. Facebook, on the other hand, is recognizable by the importance of its ad spaces.

The website’s building blocks are covered in precious metal. The material seems to point to the gigantic power and wealth that the Silicon Valley tech giants have amassed over the past few years but also to the geological origins of our techno-mediated civilization.

Brilliant work that encapsulates perfectly the theme of the exhibition!


Jeroen van Loon, An Internet, 2015. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Jeroen van Loon, An Internet, 2015. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

https://player.vimeo.com/video/152896199?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0
Jeroen van Loon, An Internet, 2015

Jeroen van Loon’s An Internet uses glass tubes to reflect the undersea network of fibre-optic cables that connects continents. The system converts the 280 cable names into binary smoke signals. The smoke is puffed into the transparent tubes. You see it fill in the network and evaporate as soon as it encounter an opening in the network.

An Internet is visually seducing. Its vapour and glass representation of an interconnected world suggests the fragile and ethereal dimension of online communication. The installation also alludes to the possible destiny of today’s favourite communication technology:

An Internet shows a vision of a future Internet in which data is no longer produced to be stored for future use, but to be instantly accessible and then lost forever.
How would the internet look if all data were temporary and ephemeral?


Joshua Citarella & Brad Troemel, Have A Cord Problem And a Spare Half Hour? Try Using Some of That Excess Length To Liven The Room With a Scene From Your Favorite Planet Earth Episode Including The Commercials That Aired During It, Ultraviolet Production House, 2015 – ongoing. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Joshua Citarella & Brad Troemel have found a solution to the problem faced by many young artists: the high production costs of artworks that leaves them indebted before they’ve even found a buyer for their work.

Their Ultraviolet Production House store allows you to order the original artwork of your choice online. After the purchase, you will receive the necessary materials, tools and a manual necessary to build the work “in the comfort of your own home”. The kit comes with a certificate of authenticity.

This innovative model for labor and production cuts the middleman (the gallery) and allows UV to sidestep the costs of overhead, material, studio, tools, etc.

MU ordered two pieces for the show: Incense Fence and Have A Cord Problem And a Spare Half Hour? Try Using Some of That Excess Length To Liven The Room With a Scene From Your Favorite Planet Earth Episode Including The Commercials That Aired During It.


Mieke Gerritzen, My Friends, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

According to a research at Oxford University, our brains can manage a meaningful relationship with no more than 150 people at a time. For My Friends, Mieke Gerritzen selected 150 of her closest friends from her 800-plus Facebook contacts, pixelated their profile picture and had it painted.

My Friends gives the ephemeral digital network forged through social media a permanent quality. In a bid to anchor virtual reality, the project materialises part of unbounded digital space and therefore delimits it. The collection of paintings symbolises the age of the network society. The profile photos are rendered in a unique way, magnifying their digital origins.

The images are so heavily pixelated that they anonymize the individuals. Strangely enough however, if you know the people or at least their social media profile, you can still recognize them.


Julien Deswaef & Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Shiv Integer, 2016 – ongoing. From The 3D Additivist Cookbook. From The 3D Additivist Cookbook. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Julien Deswaef & Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Shiv Integer, 2016 – ongoing. From The 3D Additivist Cookbook. From The 3D Additivist Cookbook. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Shiv Integer is a computer programme that randomly picks up models from MakerBot’s Thingiverse, combines them to make odd sculptures, assigns them equally arbitrary names such as Twisty Squeegee Machine then posts the results back on the 3D design sharing platform.

As Matthew Plummer Fernandez writes: The process follows a lineage of Dadaist readymade and chance art, but also explores the authorship-inheritance of Creative Commons licensing, as well as performing an archiving of an Internet subculture, taking cross-database snapshots of 3D-Print culture.


Dries Depoorter, Get Popular Vending Machine. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Dries Depoorter, Get Popular Vending Machine. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

Dries Depoorter makes the economics of fake social media success visible with his usual astuteness. His Get Popular Vending Machine sells scratch tickets for a chance to win up to 25.000 followers for your Instagram or Twitter account.

Popularity, influence and prestige for only one euro!


Morehshin Allahyari, Dead Drop Heads, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Morehshin Allahyari’s Dead Drop Heads is a (consciously inadequate) effort to preserve the memory of the antique statues smashed by ISIS when they looted the Mosul Museum in Iraq in 2015. MU visitors can connect their laptop to the work and download a printable 3D file of one of the demolished statue.

“I think the more people who have access to this information, the less that history is forgotten in a way,” Allahyari told Motherboard. “The more files that are saved on people’s computers, even if they’re never printed, the number of PDF files that are read or kept, the more that history that was initially removed by ISIS will be saved.”


Roel Roscam Abbing, Pretty Fly For A Wifi, 2014. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Under its haphazard and rustic appearance, Pretty Fly for a Wifi is a wonderfully moving collection of DIY Wi-Fi antennas. It is at once a project history and a manual for the use of DIY Wi-Fi antennas. Many of these designs were once shared on homepages that no longer exist but that are still partially available through the Internet Archive. Pretty Fly for a Wifi revives the designs by rebuilding, testing and documenting them. Each of these pots, pans and cans embodies people’s dream of forging their own communication tools and building an alternative internet.


Valerie van Zuijlen, The Cellular Aura (Version 2.0), 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Valerie van Zuijlen, The Cellular Aura (Version 2.0), 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

As lame as this might sound, many of us have caught ourselves thinking that our laptops and phones must have a spirit of their own. Valerie van Zuijlen investigates the concept of spiritual technology with a performance that offers visitors the possibility to access “the soul” of their digital devices.

All you have to do is turn on the camera of your phone, hand the device to her and watch in wonder as the aura of your phone will glow on a nearby screen.

More photos from the exhibition:


Lauren McCarthy, LAUREN, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Clement Valla, Surface Proxy, Untitled (Still Life 1), 2016 | Untitled (Still Life 2), 2016 | Still Life (Measuring Plants), 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Richard Vijgen, Deleted City 3.0, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Richard Vijgen, Deleted City 3.0 + Jan Robert Leegte, Scrollbar Composition, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer


Jeroen van Loon, Life Needs Internet, 2017. Photo by Hanneke Wetzer

Materialising the Internet, a group show curated by Nadine Roestenburg and Angelique Spaninks, is at MU artspace in Eindhoven until 12 November 2017.

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/how-artists-and-designers-are-materialising-the-internet/

“How Will This Move Me Forward?”

open roads

Saw an interesting tip posed by my man Tom Corley the other day, author of Rich Habits.

He says this is “the only question you ever need to ask yourself” before making a move – which is kinda drastic in my opinion, haha, but still pretty good to consider.

Here’s the question:

“How will this move me forward?”

So simple, yet so profound! And something that could have served me well back in my college days too, haha… (does moving forward towards beer and girls count?! Maybe just 1/2 a point? ;))

Here are some times where Tom says is smart to ask yourself this question:

  • Before you turn on the TV
  • Before you click on Facebook
  • Before you cheat on your spouse
  • Before you gossip
  • Before you gamble
  • Before you light that cigarette
  • Before you feel like hitting someone

(I like how cheating on your spouse is right up there with Facebook, haha… How about when you use Facebook to cheat?? Do you have to ask yourself twice? (womp womp))

Anyways, a great question to think about for sure. And of course, it extends merrily to our finances and careers too. As much as we sometimes might prefer it didn’t 😉

Here’s a list I quickly put together on when you might want to ask yourself this question relating to your money… Will any of this help move you forward??

  • When you take out your wallet
  • When you take out your credit card
  • When you step into the mall
  • When you log onto Amazon
  • When you take out a loan
  • When you stop reading Budgets Are Sexy (the horror!!)
  • When you opt out of your 401(k) contributions (double horror!)
  • When you quit your job with nothing lined up (unless you’re doing it to read the complete archives of Budgets Are Sexy)

So as you can see, it’s a pretty powerful question. You don’t want to analyze yourself to death every second of the day, but I’d imagine that even just asking yourself this *once* in a more general way each day could serve you and your wallet pretty well.

“How will all my actions today move me forward?

Great question to have on your phone or computer’s desktop screen too! Or even as a daily calendar reminder… Imagine seeing this pop up every time you open it up in the morning? Would be pretty hard to ignore!

Check out Tom’s blog or book if you haven’t done so before… he reminds me a little of a modern day Napoleon Hill, and is always putting out short and sweet passages that tend to get me to stop for a few and reflect. Great for *millionaire research* too, as he spent 5 years interviewing the wealthy (and the poor, for better comparison) which later turned into a book and catapulted him onto the scene.

Here are a few nuggets from his research which I’m pretty obsessed about:

  • 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor
  • 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor
  • 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
  • 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor
  • 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.
  • 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor
  • 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs. 3% for poor.
  • 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

So yeah – lots of things to ponder today!

Now ask yourself: how will reading this blog post move you forward? 😉

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/how-will-this-move-me-forward/

Nothing’s Ever Permanent

fall leaves changing

Here’s a crazy thing to think about:

Nothing you own is permanently yours.

Not your house.

Not your clothes.

Not your car.

Not your friends.

Not your health…

Everything will disappear at some point in your life, and the world will keep moving on without you!

That’s the freaky part.

The good part?

We have lots to be appreciative of NOW, and we get to choose the bulk of what we bring into our lives later too 🙂

And good thing, because it opens up a number of doors!

  1. It’s much more freeing. No more having to make everything perfect because it never will be anyways! Things always change!
  2. You can make choices faster! (And then change your mind faster later too – nothing’s permanent!)
  3. It’s empowering. Almost everything in our life we have control over. WE get to decide where to spend our time and money every day. WE get to decide who we hang out with and who we do not. WE get to control our own hopes and dreams and futures.
  4. It means our stresses, struggles, and debts are temporary too. Imagine if all those were permanent?! *shiver*

Here’s a quick test:

Look around your home/office/bedroom right now.

How does it make you feel? Happy? Sad? Annoying?

Try logging into your bank accounts now.

Do you like what you see?

How about all the people you’ll be hanging out with today? Do they love you? Support you? Make you a better person?

All of the above can be changed at any point you want them to.

So while the lack of permanence can be sad to think about, it can also be quite beautiful.

From people to things to money to dreams, WE are the ones in control of our lives, and WE have the power to dramatically change it one way or the other.

Take a minute to appreciate everything you have at this very moment, and then get right back to hustling and dreaming for more.

Nothing’s ever permanent. And that’s a good thing!

*****
PS: If you really want something to marinate on today – consider that in 100 years none of this stuff will even matter anyways! Everyone you know will be dead by then: friends, family, celebrities, politicians – and an entirely new population will be roaming this Earth. Happy Friday! 😉

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/nothing-is-ever-permanent/

9 More Financial Hacks to Put In Your Pocket

one dollar shades

Alright, so last week we featured a ton of financial tips and motivation from our *readers* of the blog here, so today I thought we’d share a handful of tricks from the *bloggers* in our space.  Many of which I’ll be hanging out with today and over the next few days at our yearly FinCon conference, so if you’d like me to personally thank any of them for you just shout! 😉

(And btw, if I’m slow to respond to any of you for the rest of the week, now you’ll know why… Got lots of hanging and drinking and nerdy $$$ talking to do!)

Here are the last of all the tips I’ve been saving over the months:

*******

How To Not Blow Your Windfall

Any time you get a new windfall (bonus check hits, you have a great month of sales or another one time windfall), put that money into a 3 month CD.

This is boring. The reason why you’re doing this is to allow your dopamine levels to settle at its normal baseline (you’ll have a temporary spike after receiving the windfall). We’ve found that 90 days is enough time to allow your body to reset (get used to the money).

If you spend a single cent of the windfall within the first 90 days it usually leads to “buyers remorse” which is just another way of saying regretful purchases. We’ve deployed this tactic many times and continue to do so despite being financially independent (no one likes regretting purchases).

— The Wall Street Playboys // How to Avoid Negative Life Style Inflation
 

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How To Push Your Kids To Self-Improvement

My dad sometimes comes up with creative ways to push me towards self-improvement. His most recent concoction is what he fondly calls, “Dad’s Investment Reading Club.” He has put forth this offer to both my brother-in-law and me.

Here are the terms:

– We can read 4 specific investing books for a reward/bribe of $100 per book.
– We must provide a 2 page “book report” for each book read.
– The funds must be invested in a Roth IRA for long-term savings
– After finishing all 4 books, we get a bonus/bribe of $100, and have the option to read 5 more books for $100/book.
– In total, we have the option to read 9 books about investing for a total of $1,000. The deadline is December 31st, 2017.

So essentially, my dad is bribing us to read books of his choosing about investing, and I think it’s a brilliant idea for all involved.

— Matt Spillar // How My Dad Finally Got Me to Read Investing Books
 

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How To Not Be Stupid(er)

I leave one account as my Stupid Mistakes Fund, and every month I just put in a small amount into that account. It covers me for when I do something dumb like get a parking ticket. I remember learning this from Ramit Sethi way back in the day.

The Financial Panther
 

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How to Better Pay Your Medical Bills

Don’t pay medical bills with credit cards! Most medical providers don’t charge you interest, and they’re usually very willing to work out payment plans with you.

Christine Luken
 

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How To Save Money Shopping (And Piss Off Store Employees)

Well, I’m famous for going “shopping,” filling my cart, trying on clothes, and leaving the cart in a random aisle before walking out of the store. Yes, I know this is cruel to the kind workers in Target (if I’m still in the clothes section I put them back) but I can’t help myself!!

I have a rule that if I didn’t know that it existed and was needed 5 minutes before I picked it up, then why do I feel I need it now?? It takes about 30 minutes to talk myself off the ledge, and when I do I hightail it out of there so the clothes don’t chase me down.

Miss Mazuma
 

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How To Really Afford Something

If I’m going to start getting a massage once a month, I won’t consider myself able to ‘afford it’ until I can build both the cost of the massage and match that with an additional contribution to my savings, into my budget.

Stefanie O’Connell
 

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How To Pay Less For College

For the last 18 years, my credit card rewards have funded a 529 college saving account. The balance is now over $36K, enough to fund over a year at the average school. It adds up fast.

Joe Taxpayer
 

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How to Save For Emergencies and Vacations
(And Where Do You Park Your Car?)

For emergencies, I keep a $100 bill hidden in my car. If it doesn’t get spent that month then it goes into our vacation fund. It’s a good way to try and stay on track!

Barnabas @ The Dad Wallet
 

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How to Keep Your Inheritance From Going to Jerks 😉

We have been working on wills/trusts and were joking about putting in an a**hole clause, where if something happened to us while they were still young my sister-in-law would be have the ability to determine if they had turned into jerks and their portion of the inheritance should go to charity 🙂

Mrs. Retire to Roots
 

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And that’s the end of my tips hoarding! I’ll start saving them all up again to dish out another round in a few months… If you missed any of the other articles in the series, you can find them here:

Come find me if you’re at FinCon this week!!

all the single ladies

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/9-more-financial-hacks/

Do You Include Pensions in Your Net Worth? How About Art, Insurance, Homes, Cats, Baseball Cards?

net worth numbers

What do you include in your net worth? What *don’t* you include?

This is probably the 3rd most popular question I get asked, outside of “Is J. Money your real name?” (Yes) and “how did you get so damn sexy??” (I don’t know, it just comes natural! ;))

So today I thought I’d list out my personal feelings on it, and then everyone can chime in and let me know if they think I’m a big fat idiot or not. Although the reality is that we’d all be wrong, because:

THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO TRACK IT!

Okay, well there is – you can’t call cash a “debt” or a loan an “asset” – but everyone here is smart enough to not mess that up, so what we’re really talking about here are all those *gray areas* that come into play. The stuff that might or might not belong in your wealth, but you just can’t tell and want an extra set of eyes on it.

So today, I’ll be your eyes 🙂 And then you can take what you want from it…

Ultimately though, your net worth is only for you and your own goals/motivation, so as long as your tracking aligns with what you’re trying to get out of it all, then keep in mind you’re doing just fine!

Alright, so what belongs in your net worth and what does not?

Here are my thoughts… And keep in mind that I personally track my net worth to get an *overall snapshot* of where all my money/major property is at any given point in time. I don’t care about liquid vs not liquid assets, or taxable vs not taxable, or any other more specific ways to track wealth (cash flow/retirement/etc – those are for other spreadsheets). There are a thousand different ways to track this stuff, so again go w/ the route that makes the most sense for your situation!

What I think belongs in your net worth and what I think doesn’t:

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Cash: Yes. Cash = money = wealth = asset!

Investments (stocks, bonds, cds): Yes. Investments are literally investments!

Retirement Accounts (401(k), IRA, TSP, SEP, 403(b)): Yes! Now it may be worth noting which accounts are pre-tax and which are after-tax, as that will certainly matter as time goes on – especially for cash-flow/retirement purposes, but rarely do I see these guys not listed in at least *some* form of wealth tracking reports.

Stock Options: No. Options are worth diddly unless executed. Once you do execute them, however, then yes – all that $$$ goes right into net worth unless you blow it all on candy and gum drops (what are gum drops, btw?).

529 College Savings Accounts: Yes/No. It is technically $$$ you own, but it’s also earmarked for someone else to use later (usually, though you can also set up 529s for yourself), and at some point it’s all going to go out the window. So you can either keep it in your net worth now for an overall big-picture tracking, knowing its’ all going to be dumped out later, or you can just keep it out from the start, and then if you recoup any of it down the line just add it into your net worth at that point.

I used to include it in my own worth when we first started investing for Baby Penny, but after a few months (and asking y’all about it) I eventually moved it out as I just felt funny about it. I still track it though as you see in each net worth report, but I do so *outside* of my net worth section and just add it to another part of the spreadsheet since it’s still a big chunk of money to be watched over. So either way I think you’re fine with this one.

Income: Nope. It doesn’t matter how much you make or don’t make, what matters is *where it all goes* every month. If you use some of that income to save or invest or pick up property, then it’ll naturally be reflected in your net worth report once you do that! But if you spend every penny of it, then it doesn’t add a thing to your net worth, does it?

Pensions: Nope. See “income” above. Although, if I’m being completely honest here, I’ve never really looked into pensions to see exactly how they work because I’ll never see one in my day! (Millennial alert!). So definitely wise to seek outside consult on this one… If I’m understanding it correctly, however, it’s just another form of income like a paycheck would be, which in that case would be treated the same way as above (i.e. if you save any of it it’ll be reflected in savings in your net worth, but if you spend it all then it doesn’t!). All that said though, of course pensions are AWESOME and should still factor into your financial/retirement planning, it would just go into a different spreadsheet in my opinion.

Any readers here wanna chime in though with thoughts? Do you include your pensions in your net worth? If you do, how exactly do you track it? Just estimate what it’s worth as one lump sum?

Bonuses/tips/lottery winnings. Nope Nope Nope. Unless it’s converted to savings/investments as in the above, none of it matters!

Houses (that you live in): Yes. This one is a healthy debated topic in our industry, and I can see both sides, but to me if you own something that’s worth/costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and is one of the biggest expenses of your life, then yes – it belongs in your net worth. ESPECIALLY if there’s the other side to the equation here, i.e. mortgage(s)!

I’ve seen people list one side and not the other, but to me that totally tilts it either super optimistically or super conservatively, and in either case the balance is just way too off for my taste. A home may not be a true investment in terms of *earning you money*, however, it’s still a pretty huge piece to your financial puzzle. It would be hard to avoid when factoring in all your $$$.

Houses/property (that you don’t live in): Definite yes! Wherever you side on the home or no home equation, everyone can pretty much agree that rental and investment properties most definitely belong here. In these cases they all operate as mini businesses that take in income and spit out expenses, and again you need both sides of the equation here to fully appreciate the bigger picture.

Cars: Yes. An even hotter debated topic than homes, however again – large expenses/values to me should always be included, as well as their very large expenses on the other end. Out of everything I track though, this would be the one section I could see cutting if there was a gun to my head. (Although in that case I’d just give the gun holder the damn car!)

I should mention a word on *valuing* here.

While it takes 3.2 seconds to dig up your loans on any car or house, it’s a whole other ballgame with how you value them. Some people like to use a specific site or group of sites to formulate a good estimate, and there’s typically a slew of different ways out there, but as long as you keep *consistent* in your tracking every month it should be just fine.

I use KBB.com for tracking my cars’ values, and when I used to own a home I’d literally just ask my realtor and have him run comps every 6 or 12 months or so. I always found Zillow to be wayyyy too chaotic and unrealistic for my neighborhood, so I just went straight to the person who I felt could give me the best info. So while cars were updated monthly, and still are, my home was always bi-yearly or just once a year. You never really know its true value for sure though until the day you sell!

(And interesting to note, my realtor was only off by $500 by the time we sold our place… And of course I went through him for hooking me up with the info over the years ;))

Stuff in your house (furniture, clothes, decorations, toys). Nope, nope, nope. Smart to know roughly what you own and its general worth for reporting/insurance reasons (a good idea is to walk around the house video recording everything once a year!) but in terms of net worth specifically, I always cringe when I see this being tracked. Usually because the #’s always just seem so inflated as if they’re listing the *purchase* price of their things vs the actual *value*. Just because you paid $1,500 for your couch, doesn’t mean it’s still worth that!

So if including your things is important to you in net worth, I’d just be more conservative and do your best to put a more realistic value on them… Ask yourself what you’d list them on Craigslist or eBay for?

Art/Collectibles/Coins/Baseball Cards. No. Unless you’re hoarding some Picassos or Mickey Mantles or the 1783 Nova Constellatio “quint” silver coin (the very first U.S. coin minted!), it’s probably safe to keep them out of the wealth tracking here. Again, except for insurance purposes. It doesn’t change how valuable any of our stuff is, just that $$-wise a lot of this doesn’t “count” until it’s sold and you have the $$ in your hand. And that’s coming from someone with a hefty rare coin collection!

Jewelry. Nope. I treat it the same as “stuff” or “collectibles.” Unless we’re talking big bucks here ($20,000? $50,000?) I prefer to count it later once/if it’s sold… *if* being the key part.

Insurances. Nope. At least not term life insurance and other similar non-fancy-investment-mixed-plans that people seem to get ripped off by… Just like my desserts and vegetables, I prefer to keep my insurance and investments separate 😉 But we already covered that in another post… In terms of net worth inclusion, again unless this pays out and you get gobs of cash that you then put into savings or investments or property, I don’t like to include it here.

Businesses/Blogs. No. This one is probably the trickiest of them all, and one that I can see both sides of. But, personally, I like to keep my business stuff completely separate from my personal stuff. This includes bank accounts, property, taxes, stock options/ownership, debts, you name it. Until something activates and it crosses over into my personal finances (paychecks, funds from selling a site/business), it all stays on opposite sides of town.

It’s not as nice as having everything in one spot, but to me it feels much better keeping my two lives separate. I’m also someone who enjoys “nice surprises” every now and then, so I’d much rather see an increase in my net worth *all at once* when things activate over, vs. it slowly growing over time. And especially with valuations on your businesses, which can fluctuate daily! (For the good or bad!)

This is how I see it anyways, but would love to hear thoughts from other business/blog owners on this? Do you all keep your businesses in your net worth or also separated out?

Quarterly tax money. Nope. This is another tricky area as your taxes can mix both personal and business worlds together, but over the years I’ve tended to just separate this out under my business accounts and pay all my quarterly taxes from there. Initially I tried accounting for it in my net worth for the first few months of self-employment, but wow was that miserable! You had three months of this account (savings) piled up and looking pretty, and then BAM – quarterly payment time and it all goes down to $0.00! The worst! 🙂 A couple rounds of doing that and I was convinced it’s better to just keep it all separated vs. watching the yo-yo over the months, haha…

Loans: No. This is a strange one to put here, but seeing how when I first started tracking my money I used to include it myself, I figured I’ll just throw it out there in case others are doing the same thing… Don’t! While someone may *owe* you money and you’re hoping/convinced that you’ll get it back later, you never really know and better to count your chickens only after they’ve hatched. I think I’m 3 for 4 out of all the family loans I’ve given out of the years, but honestly if you can’t afford to lose the money you probably shouldn’t be loaning it out anyways.

(I’ve heard people say that the only “gift” people money when needed vs loaning it, and I always thought that was a cool – and selfless! – way to help someone 🙂 Again, provided you can afford it!)

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Alright, I think that hits a lot of the gray areas?

Let me know if I missed anything, and I’ll go back and update this…

Also keep in mind – mainly when you’re trying to compare your own situation with others, because let’s be honest, we all do it! – there’s a TON of other variables that come into play with why someone might have a smaller or larger net worth than someone else.

Such as:

  • Age of the person
  • Whether they’re married or single (and if they’re tracking it separately or combined?)
  • How many kids they have
  • Where they live (ie. high cost of living or low cost of living?)
  • When they had their financial *epiphany*
  • Did they inherit anything?? (Nothing wrong with that, it’s awesome!, but of course it can affect your stockpile)
  • Their profession/goals/dreams

And lastly, a quick note which hopefully y’all already know by now:

Net Worth Self Worth

Yes we talk about $$$ every day here (because we’re a money blog!), and yes we obsess about numbers and our goals and dreams and being able to retire early so we can do whatever we want to in life (the whole point of money), but at the end of the day our net worth is only an indication of our dealings with money itself. Nothing else.

There are people with big hearts changing the world who are dirt poor, and then there are millionaires and billionaires who are complete dirt-bags (look at that play on words!). So do keep paying attention to it all, but also remember that it’s only one part to the equation of life. The rest is, well, actually living! And a good life is the best reward of all, right? 🙂

Now tell me what you think about all this! What did I forget or miss the mark on?

I’m hoping to make this THE post that I share with everyone in the future anytime I’m asked about this stuff again, so leave as many thoughts and opinions as y0u’d like as it’ll all help generations of future readers to come 🙂 No pressure!

Thanks for reading the blog and making our community great.

j. money signature

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PS: Cats. No, cats do not belong in your net worth.

cat wiggling gif

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/do-you-include-pensions-in-your-net-worth-how-about-art-insurance-homes-cats-baseball-cards/

Is Checking Your Money Every Day Making You Sad?

negativity bias - money

[Happy Friday! Today’s weekly guest post comes from Owen of PlanEasy.ca – a financial planner and geek of all things personal finance. Do you fall into any these bias traps Owen shares today?!]

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If you’re a personal finance geek like me, you probably check your money on a regular basis. Whether that’s weekly, daily or even multiple times per day.

Maybe you check your investments, or the stock market, your checking/savings account, credit card balances, mortgage balance, or maybe you even check them all. And financial apps and aggregators only make it easier any second of the day.

But beware, checking your money every day could be making you sad!

Why? Because we’re not rational people. We experience gains differently than we experience losses, even when it’s the exact same dollar amount. This is called “negativity bias” and if you check your finances too often it can actually hurt you more so than help you.

Let me explain…

We’re Not Rational And It Makes Economists Cringe

Economists assume that people behave rationally. For a given situation we should be choosing the option that provides us with the most benefit. But that’s not what we actually do.

For example, we perceive information differently depending on how it’s presented, which is something called framing bias. If we look back at events and believe that they should have been predictable, then we experience hindsight bias. And if you’re somebody who’s always trying to avoid loss, that gets filed under loss aversion.

We’re affected by all sorts of deep, ingrained biases, and each of these affect not only our behavior, but our mood too.

We also don’t perceive gain and loss the same way. Which is something called negativity bias. For the same amount of money, we’re affected by losses more so than gains.

“The aggravation that one experiences in losing a sum of money appears to be greater than the pleasure associated with gaining the same amount.”
– Kahneman & Tversky

What does that mean for your personal finances?

It means that if you unexpectedly gain $100 one day and then unexpectedly lose $100 the next, you’ll end up feeling sad. Even though you’re in the exact same financial position you were two days ago.

[Editor’s Note: Remember our post on how I’d scoop up poop if it made me happy? And how I mentioned how horrible it would be if you gained a lot of money, only to lose it all later even though you’d be back in the exact same position again? Guess that’s textbook negativity bias!]

The same thing happens when you gain 1% in the stock market and then lose 1% the next day. You’re roughly in the same financial position but you still feel the pain.

So Why Do We Keep Looking At Our Investments?!?

I just read this book called Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the central ideas in his book is that we are terrible at separating noise from signal. Humans seek patterns, even when nothing is there. We want to assign meaning to things even when it’s just randomness.

fooled by randomness book

When it comes to the stock market, his point is that day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, the stock market is mostly noise. It’s speculators making bets on the direction of stock prices based on external factors.

From minute to minute there is little meaning in stock market fluctuations. There is no appreciable change in information for any given company listed on the stock exchange. Yet, its stock price will fluctuate throughout the day. Up, down, up, down, up, down…

Taleb provides an example: he calculates the chance of a fictional stock gaining when it has an annual growth of 15% and standard deviation of 10% (standard deviation is a measure of the price fluctuations).

If you own this stock you only have a 53.1% chance of seeing it gain on any given day. The other 46.9% of the time you’ll see it lose. This is just noise.

However, over time this noise gets overcome by actual results. Over a long enough period, the noise is barely noticeable at all. This is why we invest for the long term.

If you check this stock on a quarterly basis you’ll have a 77.4% chance of seeing it gain that quarter.

It’s even better annually. If you only check this stock once per year you’ll have a 93.3% chance of seeing it gain, almost 19 times out of 20 you’ll have a positive year. That would feel pretty good!

fooled by randomness graph-1

(Fooled By Randomness, page 57)

Just for fun I recreated Taleb’s table with the actual results of the S&P 500 over the last 30 years. The compound annual growth rate, including dividends, is 10.5% and the standard deviation is 16.8%.

The probability of seeing the S&P 500 gain over one day is just 51.5%. Over a quarter it’s 62.2%. Over one year you have a 73.3% chance of seeing the S&P 500 gain.

If you checked the S&P 500 daily you’d lose money nearly half the time!

recreated taleb table sp500

(Data Source)

Remember! From one day to the next the stock market is mostly noise. But from one year to the next you start to see actual results.

By checking your money every day, you open yourself up to these sad feelings.

One day your net worth is up, the next day it’s down, and now you feel sad. Nothing has really changed in the market. It’s just random fluctuations. So why do we torture ourselves? Why do we look?

In the past this wasn’t a big problem. You got your quarterly account statement from your stock broker in the mail and most times you’d be up.

But in the age of financial apps and instant information, it’s easy to get your net worth updated by the second, and that can be dangerous.

But Does It Really Matter?

The question is, does this really matter for you?!? Probably not. Because hopefully you’re still making contributions to your savings and investments on a regular basis.

Unless you’re super wealthy, my guess is that your contributions are still larger than those daily fluctuations. Thanks to these contributions, when you check your net worth you’ll see it growing and this can be super motivating. As a financial geek, I get really excited when I see my net worth grow or when dividends come rolling in. This excitement is a very powerful motivator.

When should you stop checking your money? Probably when the daily fluctuations start to overcome your contributions. At this point it might makes sense to check your money less frequently. Maybe once per quarter or even once per year. This should help avoid those “sad” feelings.

Until then, keep checking your money, just be aware of this psychological trap!

Editor’s Note: How often do you all check your accounts? I used to log into my banking EVERY SINGLE DAY because I was obsessed, but now I tend to only look a few times a month just to make sure everything’s kosher. Investments-wise, however, I only check in *once* per month when I sit down to calculate my latest net worth. Which, come to think of it, is probably why I’m always happy each time I run it – the odds are always in my favor! Haha… Yay stats!

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Owen is an avid traveler, father, and creator of PlanEasy Inc. – a financial planning company and blog sharing weekly tips around personal finance. Find him on Twitter @PlanEasyCanada, or in person the next time you’re in London, Ontario!

[Shameless plug: If this post hasn’t scared you away from $$$ apps, check out our new Directory we just built out over at Rockstar Finance 😉 We feature over 50 of the most popular and best $$$ apps, as rated by 150 financial bloggers!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/checking-your-money-every-day-may-make-you-sad/

Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017 (part 2)

As promised, here’s a follow-up of Monday’s first foray into Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017 which you can currently visit at De Domijnen in Sittard (NL). The exhibition gathers the work of over 40 artists who, through small scale interventions, attempt to bring a creative answer to the numerous environmental crises European ecosystems are going through.

Today’s short selection will focus on artistic attempts (many of them successful) to restore environmental damage:


Nils Norman, The Gerrard Winstanley Radical Gardening Space Reclamation Mobile Field Center and Weather Station (European Chapter), 2000. Installation view at Museum De Domijnen. Photo by Bert Janssen


Nils Norman, The Gerrard Winstanley Radical Gardening Space Reclamation Mobile Field Center and Weather Station (European Chapter), 2000

Nils Norman designed a bike trailer to travel between parks, playgrounds, schools and public squares. Once parked, the trailer opens to reveal a small photocopier, a library, a small weather station as well as a solar panel. The library consists of books on DIY culture, permaculture, urban gardening, energy systems, utopias and issues of gentrification.

The mobile library encourages people to photocopy the chapters in the books that interest them and implement the ideas found in the publications.

The bike is named after Gerrard Winstanley, the leader of “the Diggers”, a group of Protestant radicals in 17th Century England who tried to defy the enclosure of common land by private interests: occupying it en masse, pulling down hedges, digging it up and cultivating it for food.


Agnes Denes, Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule – 11,000 trees 11,000 People 400 Years (Triptych), 1992-1996, Courtesy of Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York


Agnes Denes, Tree Mountain in 2013. Photo by Strata Suomi

Tree Mountain is a monumental reclamation project located in Ylöjärvi, Finland. The project was officially announced by the Finnish government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in l992 as Finland’s contribution to help alleviate the world’s ecological stress. The huge mountain was planted with eleven thousand trees by eleven thousand people from all over the world, eventually creating the first man-made virgin forest.

People who planted the trees received certificates acknowledging them as custodians of the trees. The certificate is an inheritable document valid for twenty or more generations in the future. Situated on top of an aquifer known as Finland’s purest source, Tree Mountain preserves the precious resources for centuries to come.

Agnes Denes conceived the project in the early 1980s as a mark of humanity’s commitment to the future ecological, social and cultural life on the planet.


Vera Thaens, Roof Runoff Purifying System. Photo: Bert Janssen

Vera Thaens installed a biological water purification station in Sittard. Her Roof Runoff Purifying System uses different types of plants to filter and clean rainwater, making it ideal for drinking. The water plants were selected for their specific ability to remove toxic substances. Some extract nitrates and nitrites from the rainwater. Others can even get rid of hormones from wastewater (something that chemical wastewater treatment plants can’t always achieve.)

The idea of ​​purifying drinking water with plants is nothing new. German scientist Käthe Seidel prototyped the system back in the 1950s. She seems to have been an amazing person. When asked why her ingenious and wastewater purification system never took off, she answered:

Men always reach for technology, for development. They insist it will bring us to higher levels of progress. They haven’t the patience to work with slow-growing plants, nor do they understand natural cycles as women do. They see my work as farming, not engineering, so they go away and return to their machinery.”


Marjetica Potrc and Ooze (Eva Pfannes & Sylvain Hartenberg, Source de Friche, 2012

The site of Source de Friche in Brussels used to be a Shell Oil industrial site, where rainwater and ground water had accumulated in a large depression. Although the site had been decontaminated, the water remained polluted. The project highlighted and sped up the self-regenerative power of nature by processing the polluted water through a constructed wetland, a system that uses existing and new helophyte plants to filter the water. Although the water was purified, it still did not meet all European regulations for drinking water for humans, so the artists labelled it as water “of drinkable quality exclusively for non-humans”.


Rebecca Chesney, I’m blue, you’re yellow, Everton park, Liverpool, 2012

As a result of her research into habitats that help support local populations of bees and other insects, Rebecca Chesney was commissioned to realise the planting of two acres of meadow on Everton Park in Liverpool. One acre was made entirely of blue flowering species, the other acre of yellow ones. Each acre was one solid block of colour.


Rebecca Chesney, I’m blue, you’re yellow, Everton park, Liverpool, 2017

The artist recently went to see the meadows. They were in their 6th summer and quite different from when they were first planted. They have changed gradually over the years and are now mixed with loads of other species coming in.


Lois Weinberger, Das über die Planzen/ist eins mit Ihnen (What is Beyond Plants is at One with Them), documenta 10, 1997. Photo: 34 magazin

For the 1997 edition of documenta, Lois Weinberger planted a garden amongst the railway tracks of Kassel’s central station. The plants mixed native vegetation with ruderal plants the artist had collected in Central and Eastern Europe, during and after the collapse of communism. These nomadic survivors, ‘foreign immigrants’ to German soil, flourished amongst the transit lines of ‘Old Europe’, subverting any human projection of territorial sovereignty, or fixed borders, and still do so today.

Weinberger views this continuous botanical blending as a metaphor for social processes such as global migration. “The way a society deals with its plants tells us a lot about itself”, he once said.


Lois Weinberger, Brandenburger Tor, Berlin 1994


Lois Weinberger, Gebiet Wien (Area Vienna), 1988

Much of Weinberger’s work investigates Gilles Clément’s idea of the Third Landscape (the space left over by man to nature alone.) Weinberger’s gardens are not looked after. They are left to evolve, expand, be taken over by weeds and grow into unruly little landscapes.


Moirika Reker, Fruta a Mão (Urban Orchards – Pick Your (City) Fruit), 2014-ongoing. Photo via interact

When learning that most of the fruit trees adorning Portugal’s city streets were ornamental and too bitter to eat, Moirika Reker decided that these spaces could grow edible fruits instead. She sought a European Culture Foundation grant to develop “Fruta à mão” (Urban Orchards – Pick Your (City) Fruit). She focused her efforts on transforming part of the park Quinta dos Lilases in Lisbon into a public orchard. The urban orchard would be cared for, maintained and harvested by the community. The idea is to bring attention to the possibility of participation in one’s own nourishment, addressing issues related to food security, urban sustainability and aesthetic fruition of the city.

Despite pretending to be working on implementing Reker’s proposal, the city had its landscape architect design a 3000m2 orchard instead.

Hop! Couple more images from the exhibition:


Jean-Francois Paquay, Edible Environment. Photo: Bert Janssen


Installation view of Ecovention at Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen

Once again, i’m going to recommend the catalogue because it’s that good. You can get it online at BOL if you live in The Netherlands. The rest of us can buy it on Amazon.

Ecovention Europe, art to transform ecologies, 1957 – 2017 remains open at Museum Hedendaagse Kunst De Domijnen in Sittard (NL) 7th January 2018

Previously: Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017 (part 1.)

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/ecovention-europe-art-to-transform-ecologies-1957-2017-part-2/

If You’re Smart Enough to Retire Early, You’re Smart Enough to Figure Out The Rest of Your Life

fire hater

Whenever I see gobs of hate hit our blog here, I know for a fact it’s been picked up in the media lately and people for some reason feel the need to go out of their way to spread the nastiness…

Such was the case the other week when one of Mr 1500’s posts got picked up by Business Insider and over 200,000+ people viewed it. (In case you’re missing him here btw, I do too! But scroll down to the bottom to see how you can get more of him while he’s on break here ;)).

Here was my favorite comment that trickled down to our blog from it:

You are an idiot! Buying nice cars (and kites) will leave you with little money in a few years. 1.9 million dollars is really not that much money and will not last a lifetime. Your advice is hopeful at best. My advice to you, go back to work and save more money.

I always laugh at these because first of all, you have to assume that anyone leaving comments such as these must be multi-millionaires and thus speak from experience, right? (Hah!) And secondly, how do random people on the internet even know how much your daily expenses are anyways? The key ingredient to financial freedom?

I’m just waiting for someone one day to say “you know what? You are completely right! Let me dust off the resume and get back to work again because my life totally sucks! Thanks for saving me!” Haha…

Here’s the thing: if you’re smart enough to retire early, you’re smart enough to figure out how to live for the rest of your life.

You’ve already done the hardest part! You hit your early retirement number!to And we all know damn well that “retirement” really isn’t “retirement” for folks in our community anyways… What blogger, or early retiree, do you know who  just lays around all day wasting away their lives?

(Answer: no one)

If you’ve figured out how to get – and keep! – millions of dollars for yourself, and certainly by your 20s/30s/40s, you’ve earned the right to do whatever the $hit you please in life. Whether that’s to keep working for more or just completely change your life.

Plus, a million dollars, or in this case $1.9 Million dollars, is still $1.9 MILLION FREAKIN’ DOLLARS! Maybe *you* can’t live off that much, Mr. Hater Pants , but you ask any one off the streets if they think $2 Mil is a lot of money and I guarantee you’ll get more Hell Yes’s than you would No’s.

I’m so confident, in fact, that I’ll gladly give you MY $0.6 Million dollars if I’m wrong 😉

So sure, the future is never known and the money may or may not last for your entire lives because of health insurance and the stock bubble and yada yada yada, but if you’ve managed to stack a couple of million in your lifetime already, I guarantee you’ll be just fine later regardless of whether your plan works out perfectly or not.

And btw – this applies to anyone who has saved $10,000 or $100,000 or whatever too. Not on the retirement side, of course (def. no way to live off that ;)) but you should certainly be PROUD of how far you’ve come and know that you’re well on your way to financial freedom yourselves if you keep going strong. No matter what the outside world tells you. And we all know the first $100,000 is the hardest anyways, so once you cross that barrier things just get turbocharged!

Here’s another gem we received on the blog lately about our friends who retired off a million dollars and started traveling the world at 30 years old:

Amazing how a posting like this gets encouragement from complete strangers thinking their accomplishment is cool, lets see how they help when sh. hits the fan if they still post their problems, wake up people, it’s the journey, not the finish line.

Grammar aside, I find it hilarious that he/she? mentions the “journey,” considering these guys are literally journeying around enjoying life and *not* chasing the “finish line” haha… And again – these guys have literally saved over a MILLION dollars! Why not see if you can  live off it for the rest of your lives? If it doesn’t work out you go back and get a job or do whatever it takes, right?

If you’re smart enough to hit your FIRE number, you’re smart enough to manage the ups and downs of life. I think I’ll just copy and paste that forever and ever in response to all the future haters here, haha…

Point is – our community will, and always has, stood for positivity and *encouragement* on this blog here.

You’re free to voice any concern and opinion as you’d like, but I hope you know it’s a judgement-free and safe zone here, and that we’ll never go out of our way to tear you down or anything.

Whenever you see randos stirring up trouble here, you’ll know exactly where they came from – the outside world 😉

And speaking of community, if you’re gonna be in the Dallas, TX area next Friday, October 27th, make sure to come out and meet me and hundreds of your other favorite $$$ bloggers too!

https://yourmoney.live/

Our financial blogging conference (FinCon) is opening up a half day for the public to come out and get their money on, and there will be tons of great speakers and fun going down for anyone who wants to meet us. David Bach from Automatic Millionaire fame will be there, Farnoosh Torabi will be there, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox will be there, (J. Money will be there!! Did I mention that?), and then special guest – and rapper – Dee-1 will even be there to put on a show for us.

You might remember him from the hit songs, “Sallie Mae Back” and “No Car Note” – both of which are perfect to blare whenever your debt-ridden friends are around 😉

Here’s the No Care Note one – you’ll like it:

More info about the event here (tickets only $39) –> yourmoney.live

So yeah – I hope to see some of you there! Just make sure to look for the ‘hawk so we can meet up 🙂

To positive journeys,
j. money signature

*******
PS: One last hilarious hater that recently came out – Robert T. Kiyosaki of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” fame! He thought it would be fun to call Mr. 1500 a “loser” the other week, and so of course Mr. 1500 had to blog about it, haha… you can see that article here if you can’t get enough of this stuff. Good times…

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/if-youre-smart-enough-to-retire-early-youre-smart-enough-to-figure-out-the-rest-of-your-life/

Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017 (part 1)


Paul Chaney, Breast Plough’o’metric, 2014. Photo via THG (Thelma Hulbert Gallery)

Scientist, curator and philosopher Sue Spaid coined the term ‘Ecovention’ in 1999 and went on to illustrate its meaning and reach three years later with an exhibition titled Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. Spaid defines ecoventions as inventive, practical actions with ecological intent. The focus of an ecovention is not to interfere aesthetically with the landscape but to explore how art can contribute, even on a microscale, to the improvement of a given ecosystem.

This year, Sue Spaid teamed up with Roel Arkesteijn to look at the development of these artistic ecological interventions in Europe. Together, they curated Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017 at De Domijnen in Sittard.

The artists in the show not only remind us that the way we exploit the earth and its resources is irresponsible and unsustainable but they also look for solutions to environmental destruction. Alone or with the help of local communities, they’ve cleaned up polluted soils, planted wheat fields, provided pollinators with appetizing flowery landscapes, built hanging gardens, initiated edible and medicinal urban farms, developed schemes for sharing excess food and bred more resilient chicken breeds.

Unlike the website of De Domijnen, the show is in both Dutch and English. It is also very good. Informative, impeccably researched and uplifting. Ecovention Europe cheered me up and convinced me that the human animal is not a hopelessly toxic species after all.


Cecylia Malik, Białka’s Braids, 2013/2017. Photo credit: Mieszko Stanisławski

Do me a favour and visit the show if you live in the area (Sittard is 15 minutes away from Maastricht by cheap and cheerful train) because exhibitions like these are few and far between. Sue Spaid explains why in this extract from a fascinating interview she had with Metropolis: Pragmatically speaking, this kind of art is a nightmare for institutions. They prefer the kind that comes in a box, comes out of a box and then gets returned in a box a few months later. If the artists decide to exhibit something living, the museums are responsible for keeping it alive! If it is living, it might generate insects, dust, vapor, etc. Then there is the issue of commissioning ecoventions, which is another thorny issue, since it demands artists working with politicians, scientists, community members, etc., not to mention securing permits to place the work.

The exhibition is huge, with dozens of art works, all of which i’d like to mention. I’ll only cover a fraction of what i’ve discovered at De Domijnen in this article and the one coming up tomorrow (if i have good wifi access during my 9 hour long journey and i’m not too lazy) or on Wednesday. Here’s a first selection:


Paul Chaney, Breast Plough’o’metric, 2014 (video)


Paul Chaney, Slug’o’metric Device II, 2008


Paul Chaney, Slug’o’metric Devices


Paul Chaney. Installation view at Museum De Domijnen. Photo by Bert Janssen

Made of forged iron and chestnut, Breast Plough’o’metric is a replica of an ancient breast plough. Paul Chaney outfitted it with digital strain gauges and a small computer to record the exact amount of effort needed to plough a given tract of land by human power alone.

The instrument is part of a series that explores the metrics of direct human interaction with the land. A previous work, the Slug’o’metric series of kinetic sculptures employs progressively more complex technologies to kill and count slugs in your garden patch. The more technologically sophisticated each device gets, the more it removes the user from the physical action of killing the mollusc. Both the Slug’o’metric series and the Breast Plough’o’metric unsettle the typical illusion that ‘living with the land’ is a pure and uncomplicated affair.


George Steinmann, Blues for the glaciers, 2015. Photo: Tabea Reusser

In 2015, artist and blues musician George Steinmann became the first ever official “artistic observer” at the World Climate Conference COP21 in Paris.

It’s in this context that Steinmann recorded a concert of blues music in the Glacier du Rhône, in the Swiss Alps. He chose this particular glacier as the venue for the performance because the ice up there is melting about 8 cm a day. It’s global warming in action and without any veil of modesty.

The concert was filmed and unfiltered with all the sounds of nature


Brandon Ballengée, DFA136: Procrustes, cleared and stained Pacific tree frog collected in Aptos, California in scientific collaboration with Stanley K. Sessions (from the series Malamp Reliquaries), 2013


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen

Malamp Reliquaries are a series of portraits of severely deformed amphibians that artist and biologist Brandon Ballengée has discovered in wetlands, ponds and rivers around the world. Their extra or missing limbs can be explained either by the presence of chemical pollutants or by a parasite, Ribeiroia ondatrae. It is thought that the parasite disrupts the cells involved in the limb bud formation of tadpoles.

To make these portraits, the artist chemically “cleared and stained” the frogs. The photos are printed as unique watercolor ink prints and each individual frog appears to “float” in clouds. This otherworldly quality is reinforced by the titles named after ancient characters from Greco-Roman mythology.

The artist writes: They are scaled so the frogs appear approximately the size of a human toddler, in an attempt to invoke empathy in the viewer instead of detachment or fear: if they are too small they will dismissed but if they are too large they will become monsters. Each finished artwork is unique and never editioned, to recall the individual animal and become a reliquary to a short-lived non-human life.


AnneMarie Maes, Transparent Beehive, 2013-2014. Photo by AnneMarie Maes


AnneMarie Maes, Red Flag. Photo by AnneMarie Maes

The Transparent Beehive is an observation beehive that used to home a living bee colony. The beehive is fitted with microphones which pick up the vibrations and sounds of the hive and monitor the colony. Cameras inside the hive survey the growth of the wax structures and the activity of bees. Additional sensors measure the microclimate inside the structure. Data is then processed and visualized to make the state of the colony tangible.

In 2013, the bees inhabiting Maes’ beehive suffered colony collapse disorder due to the invasion of the waxmoth. Standing empty, emitting only the recorded sounds of the honey bees that once inhabited it, the work bears witness to colony collapse disorder that challenges our food future.

In the exhibition, the beehive is accompanied by a lightbox depicting a scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a honey bee’s extended glossa, the hairy “tongue” in the bee’s mouth that collects nectar from flowers.

Finally, the Red Flag, a biotextile grown by microorganisms, warns us that we should act to preserve (or restore) the well being of our environment.


Vera Thaens, Lost Common Sense, 2014/2017, Black lights, broccoli, Monsanto broccoli seed patent


Vera Thaens, Lost Common Sense, 2014/2017. Installation view at Museum De Domijnen. Photo by Bert Janssen

Vera Thaens hid an illicit plantation of broccoli under the staircase of the museum. The work, called Lost Common Sense, reacts to Monsanto being granted a patent on broccoli in all of its natural forms in Europe (in EUROPE!!!)

I’ll mention Thaens again in my upcoming story. I wish i could find more documentation about her work online. That lady is my new hero!


Lara Almarcegui, Mineral Rights, Tveitvangen, 2015

Lara Almarcegui looked into issues surrounding the ownership of the ground and the depths beneath it. Mineral Rights are regulated differently from country to country. They entitle an individual or organization to explore the rocks, minerals oil and gas found below the surface of the land. It is often impossible for a private individual to acquire them. After a lengthy procedure, Lara Almarcegui gained the mineral rights to the iron ore deposits for an area of one square kilometer in Tveitvangen, near Oslo. The mineral rights reach from the subsoil down to the center of the earth. Her objective though was to prevent the resources from being extracted.

She later acquired another iron deposit in Buchkogel and Thal, near Graz.

The artist writes: The project reminds us of how the territory is shaped at a geological level and how it is broken down and split into pieces for mine exploitation. While presenting what is below the feet in our contemporary cities and who owns it, the project raises the question of mineral extraction for the production of construction materials and it brings to light questions on land ownership and resources ownership.


Federica Di Carlo, Come in terro cosi in cielo (As in earth, so on heaven), 2013-ongoing


Federica Di Carlo, Come in terro cosi in cielo (As in earth, so on heaven), 2013-ongoing

Since Federica Di Carlo noticed that not all rainbows have all 6 colours, she has been working with scientists to discover the relationship between incomplete rainbows and air pollution.


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen


Czekalska + Golec, Homo Anubium (St. Francis 100% Sculpture), 1680-1985

Tatiana Czekalska and Leszek Golec co-created these artworks (originally church sculptures) with woodworms that had eaten so much of the material that their former owners deemed them useless as religious sculptures. The artists however saw the aesthetic and intrinsic value in the contribution of the animals, in particular their having selected Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the natural environment. The artists date it 1680-1985 as they see the creative process as being conducted over centuries

More views from the exhibition:

Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017. Photo by Bert Janssen


Installation view of Ecoventionat Museum De Domijnen, September 2017

The publication that accompanies the exhibition is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in ecological art. You can get it online at BOL if you live in The Netherlands. The rest of us can buy it on Amazon.

Ecovention Europe, art to transform ecologies, 1957 – 2017 remains open at Museum Hedendaagse Kunst De Domijnen in Sittard (NL) 7th January 2018

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/ecovention-europe-art-to-transform-ecologies-1957-2017-part-1/