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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Money

In Forge. More on Medium.

Dave Ramsey and I are ideological opposites. Listening to his show made me realize that doesn’t matter as much as I thought.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, then there’s a high likelihood that you’re probably someone like me: a liberal millennial who, under most circumstances, is not remotely interested in hearing what conservative baby boomers think about how you should live your life.

If you do know who he is, then it’s likely you are one of the millions of Americans who is in serious debt. The Ramsey Show is the third largest nationally syndicated radio show in the U.S., with 20 million combined weekly listeners. His “seven baby steps” formula and 19 national bestselling books have helped millions…


Today’s tip: Splurge on the nicest version of something you use every day.

Okay, of course you can’t really buy happiness. But if you have some extra dollars, you can use them to elevate the everyday.

Research on happiness (and lived experience) has shown that we quickly get used to things, and this makes them less happiness-sparking. As Laura Vanderkam writes in Forge, “because we get used to things, it’s hard to buy happiness by purchasing big-ticket items.”

But we can, Vanderkam points out, give ourselves lots of jolts of happiness from small, lovely things sprinkled throughout our days…


Why it’s best to invest in frequent doses of small, nice things

Illustration: Dora Godfrey/Medium

We’ve all heard the maxim that money can’t buy happiness. But what if it sort of can? Or at least a little smidge of happiness? Or think of it this way: Let’s say you’ve found yourself with a bit of extra money. What could you do with it to have the biggest impact on your daily life?

The good news is that money really can make life better. The bad news is that we tend not to take human psychology into account as we make our money decisions. …


✅ Today’s tip: Before buying something on a whim, ask what your future self would find annoying about owning it.

For all those who’ve been making a few too many pandemic impulse purchases lately [immediately hides new waffle maker, temperature-control mug, and inflatable jacuzzi], Sadie Lee offers a series of 19 questions to ask yourself the next time you’re about to click “add to cart.” One that’s particularly helpful: “What negative emotions might come with owning this item?”

Dry-clean-only garments, for example, might be a headache to care for. Plants need watering. A light-colored rug will show all the dirt…


If nobody was allowed to see it but you, would you still buy it?

Person holding credit card while on laptop.
Person holding credit card while on laptop.
Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

I used to shop for all the wrong reasons — usually because I was anxious or bored, or because I’d just had a tough week and felt that I deserved something nice. I knew I needed help with my spending, which seemed to be at the mercy of my emotions and all those darn Instagram ads.

Eventually, I was able to break the habit by developing a system, one that pushed me to be more mindful about what I consume. Now, before I buy anything, I pause to ask a series of questions that force me to reckon honestly with…


Column

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, tells us what the Danes know about converting wealth into well-being

Filtered image of a person’s legs dangling over water with European buildings in the background.
Filtered image of a person’s legs dangling over water with European buildings in the background.
Photo illustration; Image source: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Every other week, Paul Ollinger investigates how redefining success can help us lead better lives.

Winters in Copenhagen are long and dreary. Denmark’s tax rates are legitimately scary. And Hamlet was a bit glum, to say the least. But year after year, the Danes place at or near the top of the World Happiness Report, a global ranking that uses Gallup World Poll data to measure contentment by country.

By comparison, the United States seems like it should score very well on a happiness test. Winters here are, on average, far more temperate. Our tax rates are relatively benign. And…


What I’ve learned after years of studying money and happiness

Black and white photo of one USD bills against a purple gradient background.
Black and white photo of one USD bills against a purple gradient background.
Photo illustration; Image source: LEREXIS/Getty Images

Every other week, Paul Ollinger investigates how redefining success can help us lead better lives.

In the oft-quoted climax of the 1996 blockbuster Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise stares through teary eyes at Renée Zellweger, the love interest he’d almost let slip through his distracted, metaphorical hands.

His last-chance pitch to win her back: “You complete me.”

This sincere vulnerability captured her heart and five Oscar nominations despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that his revelation perpetuates a prevalent but childish fantasy: that each of us is an incomplete person lacking only a tiny gift from the universe…


Never let a downswing take over your emotions

A poker hand.
A poker hand.
Photo: Jonny Schno/Unsplash

Being good at poker is a lot more than keeping a straight face and wearing sunglasses inside. It’s a lot more than reading people, calculating numbers in your head, and putting in the work. To become a successful poker player over time, you must defeat a deadly, invisible enemy: variance.

The mathematical definition of variance can be confusing: the expectation of the squared deviation of a random variable from its mean. But the definition in poker makes it seem simpler.

Variance is just the difference between how you expect to win on average over the long run and the results…


Who We’ll Be After This

I’ve been forced to face my most persistent fear: my finances

Photo: FG Trade/Getty Images

If you wanted to sum up my complicated 37-year relationship with money in just one word, that word would be “triggered.” I’d break out into a peculiar kind of cold sweat whenever I logged into the Wells Fargo app on my phone.

I didn’t grow up with a lot. In my twenties, my bank balances were often negative, so I didn’t even bother checking them. My diet consisted mostly of pasta and frozen peas, and it was a coin flip as to whether or not my lights would turn on. …


What you don’t miss tells you as much about yourself as what you do

Photo: Pitinan Piyavatin/EyeEm/Getty Images

For years I’ve been obsessed with the concept of “enough,” and figuring out what that meant for me. How much do my wife and I need to spend at restaurants each month? How many biscuit joiners are too many biscuit joiners? Should we put on a deck? Would a second banjo be “indulgent”?

Right now, these questions feel particularly urgent: What is the bare minimum that we need to be happy? What can I throw out?

Until the pandemic, paring down felt more like a privileged exercise than a necessity. Sure, my wife and I could have quit our habit…

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