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I have a close friend who is a mother of a preschooler and a strong supporter of good, free public education. A few days ago we were talking about the city and the school budget and she said something that struck me as odd. She said we should spend more money on education. Obviously that part isn’t unusual. Lot’s of people are under that impression. What followed though was the unusual part. She said it didn’t matter how much it cost. “The future of our children was too important” according to her.

In a world with no constraints or trade-offs that certainly seems reasonable. I would not want my kids to go to school with drugs and gangs. The schools my kids attend should be clean and conducive to learning with an athletic center and a big library. My hypothetical child should get world class education, be inspired every day and do their linear algebra homework on time. …


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If you’ve been following financial news lately or religiously tracking your net worth on Mint like I do, you probably noticed last week’s hiccup in the market’s relentless march upwards. The Dow dropped 800 points in a single day — the worst performance of 2019 (so far).

Financial news media was all over this story. I woke up to dozens of articles about the 2/10 inverted yield curve and pictures of grown men sobbing in front of their computer screens gracing Yahoo Finance. I felt like we traveled back in time and Lehman Brothers just collapsed.

Naturally, the first thing I did was to Google “what is an inverted yield curve?”. …


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One advantage of hiking with friends is the inevitability of bringing up interesting topics of conversation. You can certainly come up with interesting topics on your own. But the conversation tends to be dull if you are the only one talking.

This America day, I ventured out on a hike with my good friend Nick from the The Tohidian. He was passionately telling me how sixty percent of Americans support a particular position on a controversial policy. And yet, there are states in the union that are actively trying to implement a contradictory policy. …


for the many and the few

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I picked up Robert Reich’s “Saving Capitalism — For the many, not the few” at a semi-annual book sale run by the Seattle Public Library. I didn’t think capitalism needed saving but I couldn’t resist the bright orange cover and the provocative title. And who knows? Maybe the former secretary of labour has something interesting to say.

I read the book on my patio, cover to cover, in about a week — a personal best for a full length book. I couldn’t put it down for one simple reason. I thought he was wrong and it made me angry. …


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In the 80’s my neighbourhood was poor and crime ridden. Since then, things have drastically changed. The recent economic boom has brought massive development in the area. New, million dollar houses are popping up in every street. One intersection in particular has a new condo building on every corner. There’s even a Whole Foods scheduled as a tenant for one of the buildings.

With this kind of quick and massive change, some people are occasionally left behind. Their houses go up in value but so do their property taxes. Once their fixed incomes cannot cover those semi-annual payments to the city, they are foreclosed and forced out. …


How reasonable people make unreasonable choices when it comes to their investments.

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By now, everyone has heard that stock picking is a fruitless pursuit. These days you have index funds and ETFs tracking whatever your heart desires. It is generally accepted that passive investing is the way to go — at least in my social circles.

And then you have Lyft going IPO and everyone loses their collective minds.

I saw friends buying at IPO; speculating openly on future short term price fluctuations; using leverage and all sorts of other shenanigans.

What happened? Did we forget the basic economics we all preach? Or has the glittering radiance of speculation blinded us?

Allow me to offer this story as a demonstration of my general observations. …


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Despite my best attempts, majority of people around me still dabble in stock picking. I’m not here to convince you that passive index investing is superior. It is probably self evident to anyone reading a blog called Effai.me. You must have heard all the evidence and you know stock pickers, on average, under-perform — including the pros.

I do want to share a fun story though. It comes with a lesson that happened to cost very little to learn but had the potential to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It all started around 2009. This was the year I made my first investment. It was right around the bottom of the recession. Before you start calling me an investing genius, let me stop and explain. I have picked 2009 as the year to start investing because it was the first time I ever had any money to invest — Nothing more, nothing less. I did not call the bottom. I did not have any insights. …


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Money doesn’t buy you happiness. Unless, of course, you believe this study where $75,000 could. Or maybe, if you are enlightened and in the pursuit of financial independence, you don’t even think that’s necessary. It is certainly a convenient belief.

It is also reassuring monetarily. It is not easy to keep making more and more money. If our happiness depended on ever higher incomes, we’d be stuck in the rat race forever. Financial independence would be out of the question.

It also seems to be true from observation. …


Taking a look at my proposed budget for 2018 and what really happened

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As an enlightened and savvy effai seeker, I’ve always thought that my spending habits follow a predictable and deliberate 4 step decision process: I Identify what I need; I ensure this item maximizes my utility; I seek out the lowest price. I complete the purchase.

Based on this assumption, I’ve designed a budget and built our entire retirement plan around it. I have categories for all the typical things like rent, and food. I’ve also included things that are usually not considered like taxes and depreciation of assets. I’m quite fond of it really.

Despite maintaining a budget for the past 5 years, I’ve never taken the time to compare my projections to the real world; remember, there’s what you want, and then there’s reality — and they often differ. This year, I’ve decided to do a comparison by category to see how closely we match these projections. …


Upcoming work for the upcoming year

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You may remember my article from last year titled “My favourite part of new year”. I don’t want to spoil it but (you know I’m going to spoil it) here’s the punch line: I absolutely love setting new year resolutions and grading them. Last week I graded my 2018 goals.

If you remember how I set my goals for 2018 (and if not, you can get a complete refresher here), it’s a three step process.

  1. Write down your goals — the more public the better. Effai.me is a great place for that (let me know if you want to contribute).
  2. Write down specific steps you’ll take to reach each goal. …

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Sharing hard truths about intentional living, wealth and freedom

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