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Field notes from a (sometimes) simple life.

What do they have in common?

Photo by kerry rawlinson on Unsplash

Frugality isn’t the whole path to solid personal finances, but it’s an essential foundation.

However, it’s easy to go overboard with too much of a good thing.

You might say that frugality is like salt.

Every dish benefits from a pinch, but you can quickly overdo it. Before you know it, the meal is unpleasant, and you come away in need of refreshment.

So how do you recognize appropriately frugal habits in your own life? How do you draw the line between reasonable and grateful stewardship on the one hand and Scrooge-like scrimping on the other?

From personal experience, below…


But anyone can try it and see.

Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash

I always took umbrage at being called an “introvert,” until I understood what it actually means.

It’s not a matter of fearing or disliking or being awkward around people. It’s just a deep-seated preference for the inner life over the outer.

But growing up in an American culture that glorifies a distinctly bubbly brand of extraversion, I couldn’t help feeling like a bit of a square peg in a round hole.

Something innate in my being just didn’t mesh with what most around me seemed to prefer and exemplify and strive for.

Solitary diligence was my natural state.

That proclivity…


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Options open up all sorts of great ways to very safely coax more returns out of your investments, or even just spare cash.

Ignore the course-slinging hucksters, ignore the occasionally lucky but degenerate speculators, and you’re left with an incredible tool in your financial toolbox.

Even as an avowed financial minimalist who loathes complexity, I think they’re swell.

The only problem is most folks don’t find options all that intuitive.

Everyone gets that we make money when stocks go up and lose money when they go down (short-sellers notwithstanding). That much is common knowledge. …


My twenty-first birthday was a sloppy parade of inebriated embarrassments. Never one to party as a teenager, something about a first night of state-sanctioned intoxication was too enticing to refuse. In defense of my dignity, it stopped short of a one-man reenactment of The Hangover, but it’s for the better that smartphones weren’t yet common.

So, you might wonder, did I overindulge because I didn’t know what I was getting into? Could I attribute that unflattering evening— and the ensuing headache — to sheer ignorance?

I could have drawn on my chemistry classes to tell you ethanol’s density relative to…


For better or worse, we’re in a golden age of productivity advice. We’ve never known more about the tactics, habits, and even mindset behind good work.

There’s research galore on all the above. There’s also — and perhaps with more popular influence— a mountain of casual advice and quasi-memes around squeezing more out of your day.

That’s all well and good, but when the latter turn into axioms and imperatives, and you scold yourself for falling short, then it’s worth thinking twice.

Here are four productivity “truths” that, I’d argue, are anything but.

Or should you…? (Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash)

Wake up early, but only if you want to

According to just about every pop-psychology productivity…


TRADING

How to recognize and avoid these common mistakes.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Covered calls are safe and simple. Whether alone or as part of the wheel strategy, they’re one of the best ways to trade options profitably.

But throw just a little haste or surplus risk in the mix, and your profitability vaporizes in a hurry.

After roughly a year of trading covered calls myself, and studying how others do the same, here are the mistakes I’ve made or consistently seen:

  • Using high premium to justify buying stocks you’d otherwise consider too volatile to hold
  • Setting strike prices too aggressively, thus trading long-term appreciation for heavily taxed) short-term premium
  • Selling at inopportune…


PERSONAL FINANCE

There’s a right answer, for you.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Personal debt sucks.

It’s a necessary evil at best.

Every additional day you ignore it is an additional day of accepting some institution’s ownership of your future time and effort and output.

Paying off that last penny is, literally, freeing.

Sooner or later, you realize that. Something hits home. Something lights a fire under you to devote every extra dollar toward eliminating personal debt once and for all.

And if you have more than one debt outstanding, that sense of urgency leads to a critical question…

What’s the fastest way to get there?

I’m not a financial professional. This is…


TRADING

I made them, so you don’t have to.

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Options trading serves me well these days, but it was a bumpy road at first.

And a lot of those early losses were avoidable…had I known what I know now.

Here are four of the most valuable ideas and tips I wish I’d internalized sooner.

I’m not a financial professional. This is purely opinion and entertainment, not advice. Do what’s right for you, and if in doubt about what that is, then it’s important to find someone who’s legally able to tell you.

I’ve got an IV crush on you

“That one’s gonna go crazy after earnings! I’m loading up on calls!”

We all make that mistake…


PERSONAL FINANCE

There’s a good reason this advice endures. Here’s how to act on it.

You’ve been told to pay yourself first. Your parents, some personal-finance paperback, or…ahem…some guy on the internet.

That’s nothing novel.

But it can be harder to make it happen when the rubber meets the road.

Having started married life with tens of thousands in debt, then rapidly climbed out and built a healthy nest egg, I’ve felt firsthand the difficulty and the power of setting aside money even when times are tight.

Below is what I found helpful.

I’m not a financial professional. This is purely opinion and entertainment, not advice. Do what’s right for you, and if in doubt…


BOOKS

Feeling curious?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I finally granted myself license to stop reading dull books midway.

The pang of guilt quickly passed, leaving me time and mental space for several other, more rewarding works.

Below are three of them, following no theme other than my recommendation.

FYI: these are referral links. No cost to you, tiny commission to me, you know the drill.

The Future for Investors (Jeremy Siegel)

This book, the driest but most practical of the lot, expounds on a common refrain: “it’s priced in.”

High-tech and high-growth stocks, Siegel argues, suffer from a case of great expectations. And it gets worse: not only do their outsized valuations suppress…

Erik Bassett

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