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Blunt truths from MMM; The myth of the American dream; The why and how of effective altruism; How to be the best version of yourself; New rules of workplace engagement

Blunt truths from MMM; The myth of the American dream; The why and how of effective altruism; How to be the best version of yourself; New rules of workplace engagement

By Amanda Morrall

1) Why financial reporting sucks

Bless his frugal soul, Mr. Money Moustache has a robust go at financial writers, advisors and economists for omitting to include in their figures, theories, books and spreadsheets on wealth accumulation the importance of finding non material success and happiness first before targeting prescribed rates of returns or high salaried soul sucking jobs that leave you feeling hollow even if rich.

It's a chicken or egg argument where the egg is your pre financial planning.

Obviously MMM has yet to read my book otherwise he would have exempted me from his attack. What's your address Moustache, I'll send you a copy?  

Here's an excerpt from his blog but better by far to read the entire post.

But the assumption by financial advisers these days is that consumption is just a personal choice, all of it is reasonable and none is ridiculous, and more is naturally better if you can afford it. Frugal people are written up as mildly entertaining oddities – “Wow, things sure work out well for them – too bad you can’t do that in real life”.

These aren’t really personal choices, they are fundamental financial rights and wrongs, which should be considered just as core to good financial advice as “don’t use lottery tickets and casinos as your investment vehicle”. If you converted this financial advice into medical advice, you’d have doctors advising patients to start missing sleep so they can spend 50 hours per week running on a treadmill – just because they happen to like eating 5 gallons of ice cream and a deep-dish pizza every day. Nobody would dare mention the pizza and ice cream, because that would be “preachy”, or promoting “scrimping and saving only to live a deprived lifestyle”.

A more useful type of financial advice? First get your shit together (develop a life where you can live happily on any amount), then from the vantage point of financial maturity, you can decide if you want to go on to become Mr. or Mrs. Fancy pants by branching out into some extreme form of extreme consumer connoisseur specialty like 250-horsepower vehicles or 5-star hotel hopping.

To do it the other way around is just to create a lifetime of unnecessary monetary stress – which is bad advice

2) Debunking the American dream

The following posted on a website called the (don't ask me how I came to be a follower) is a perfect companion piece to the one above as it describes one man's falling out with materialism and the recognition that the American Dream is also built on faulty, or at best, thin assumptions. 

3) Effective altruism 

In my book (chapter 10 to be precise) I also explore this theme of material excess and look other factors identified as having a more enduring effect on well-being. A think tank in the UK called the Centre for Well-being, which has done ample research in this area identified five factors that contribute most strongly to well-being: social connections and relationships, physical activity, self awareness, a dedication to lifelong learning and growth, and giving.

On this fifth point, giving, the following is a brilliant TED talk  from Peter Singer on the why and how of effective altruism.

4) A bigger better you

And more on how to be a bigger better version of yourself here from Steve Tobak writing for (Note, the second time I went to open the link it came with a warning on Malware so be advised. Hate to be blamed for an expensive computer meltdown.)

Because I wouldn't want to short link you today, here's an alternative link from a financial blogger also writing on the work/life balance theme and the importance of living and not just planning for life.

He enjoins readers to start ticking off items from their bucket list, instead of waiting for the perfect moment that never materialise. Now where did I put that list?

5) New rules of workplace engagement

As most of you regular readers know, I left the security of a full-time job behind me in 2013 and took a big leap into the world of self employment combining freelance journalism with freelancing yoga instruction.

Instead of waiting for the perfect dream job to come along, which was never going to happen, I decided to make it happen for myself.

This major change hasn't been without its own challenges and Amanda Inc. is still work in progress however the flexibility and freedom it's afforded me has been the best gift to myself ever. I'm hardly a pioneer in this area. 

According to this piece from smallbiztrends, workplace freedom is no longer a-head-in-the-clouds foolish aspiration but a working-from-the i-cloud reality that Millennials in particular are coming to view as the new norm.

Like what you've read? You'll enjoy the book better. Here's how to order a copy of Amanda's book Money Matters: Get your Life and $ Sorted. The book is also available in ebook format as well via Amazon and is replete with hyper links to help you get your finances in order. 

You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall; check out her previous Take Fives here; Find out what she's up on on her own blog here.  

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re. debunking the American Dream. Sounds like my 12 months of backpacking around Europe. Geat for the first 6 months, after that minimalist living gets a bit tiresome after a while. 



typo in heading 3....


Got it, cheers.


But the American dream was never really about materialism, even though it wished a better material quality of life for everyone.

It's great weakness, in my opiniion, has always been that it rested on all men being equal because they were created by God (declaration of independence).  That same God was the one who granted "certain inalienable rights".  But rights are only one side of a coin, the other being responsibilities.

Once you say there is no God then who granted these so called rights?

And if all we have is survival of the fittest then in what exact way are we all equal?

And just because you state they are rights, who says what responsibilities there are to balance the coin?


That and the "pursuit of happiness".  What a ridiculous word that was.


That whole article is based on the misconception that "the American dream" is about accumulating wealth.  As Ralph says above, the words are actually "the pursuit of happiness".   In fact this guy, by deciding what happiness meant to him and pursuing it, is a fine example of the American dream.


The point is you're supposed to be free (which is very different from obliged) to pursue (which is very different from having the right to achieve)  whatever your (not anybody else's) idea of happiness is (which may or may not mean accumulating wealth), subject only to the recognition that others have the same right. Not sure what's so ridiculous about that as an ideal.




Heh.  I like the way the MMM column's comments are dominated by arguments for/against automatic transmission in cars.    That kind of thing happens here whenever somebody even slightly mentions property investment. 


Self employment and freelance.  Trouble with that is the system is stacked against you in favour of the big companies.  Example you pay 250% more for the electricity you might still use.

Time to restack the deck I reckon.