5 Ways to a Happier Financial Life

Have a Happy Financial Life

This week on The Money-Guy Show, Brian and Bo review a piece from The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Clements. Clements shares the 5 keys to living a happier financial life in his recent article from a Sunday edition of WSJ.

Who doesn’t want to learn how to live a happier financial life? Money can be the cause of so much stress, but financial success isn’t as complicated as some think it is. Read on or listen in to find out what you can do to be happier.

Commuting Is a Huge Waste of Time

The first point Clements writes on: commuting destroys our happiness. Many of you can probably relate! Who enjoys being stuck in traffic for hours on end?

Clements cites a Swedish study that concluded longer commutes increase the risk of couples separating by 40%. He concludes the trade-off of dealing with a stressful drive into the city for a larger house in suburbia isn’t worth it.

Have Humility When Investing

Clements highlights that, as investors, we need to have humility. So many get caught up in trying to beat the market — but remember that “before costs, we collectively earn the market’s return.”

There’s also the issue of encountering high internal expenses when actively trading, although Bo and Brian note that fees have been decreasing over the past few years. They’re no longer the end-all-be-all when it comes to choosing what you invest in. Be smart about it.

Focus on Lowering Fixed Expenses

Clements says a third of the money typically spent in a household goes toward housing. By keeping housing and transportation costs down, we’ll have more money to spend on discretionary expenses, and we’ll be able to save more for retirement. Ideally, housing shouldn’t be more than 25% of your gross income.

Spend Money on Experiences

The guys are huge fans of spending on experiences rather than things, and couldn’t agree more with Clements on this point.

Brian touches upon the fact that when loved ones pass, we’re only left with memories. Similarly, when we pass, we can only take our memories with us. Make them count!

Don’t Work Just for a Paycheck

We all need to get paid, but working solely for a paycheck can be draining when you hate your job. Plus, what we enjoy doing early on in life might not make us happy later on.

Going back to the previous point, if we keep fixed expenses low, we can save enough to retire early, or at least take a paycut to transition to a better job in the future. Brian and Bo recommend doing what you love so it never feels like you’re working.

What Are You Doing to Live a Happier Financial Life?

These 5 keys to living a happier financial life aren’t extreme  or hard to live by– they’re common sense. If any of these issues resonate with you, then maybe it’s time to make a change so you can increase your happiness.

Recapping the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Letter to Shareholders

BUFFETT

It’s our favorite time of year! Well, it’s close for financial fans and money nerds. Here’s what’s going down: Brian and Bo cover the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Letter to Shareholders in this episode of The Money-Guy Show.

They’re excited to share these takeaways with fellow fans as there’s much that can be applied from this annual letter to our personal lives and portfolios.

In the 2015 edition of the Berkshire Hathaway annual letters, both Warren and Charlie shed light on the past 50 years of their partnership and what they hope the next 50 years will hold. Here are the highlights from each.

Highlights from Warren’s Annual Letter

Brian took tons of notes on Warren’s letter and shares the key takeaways with us:

Knowing the value of investments is priceless.

The $25 million purchase of See’s Candy, which had a $4 million cash flow with only $8 in net tangible assets. It was a great move that allowed the company to generate cash flow, which could then be used elsewhere. Brian likens this to putting your dollars to work for you in your portfolio.

Avoiding the “new paradigm.” This goes back to when the dot com boom occurred, and anything with “dot com” in the business plan was given huge valuations. As investors, we should be wary of this. P/E ratios of 200 are not normal, regardless of what pundits are saying.

A nugget of wisdom learned from Charlie: forget what you know about buying fair businesses for wonderful prices. Instead, buy wonderful businesses for fair prices.

We need to ignore market noise and focus on the basics. Warren also states you should only purchase Berkshire shares if you plan to keep them for at least 5 years. Brian says investors need to have a realistic time horizon when investing in stocks and bonds.

Warren is extremely against leveraged investments. Bo brings up that people are asking if they should mortgage their primary residence in order to invest the proceeds as rates are so low — and the answer is no!

Cash is to a business what oxygen is to a person – and people will panic in response to economic situations, we just don’t know when. Brian reminds us that having cash reserves in the form of an emergency fund is absolutely necessary.

Be aware of investments that require “sudden demands for large sums.” Brian gives the example that so many of their clients are set up for wealth and success, but they often get distracted by riskier investments that seem better. It’s key to stick to the path, because at some point, the music will stop.

Fight against companies that display “arrogancy, bureaucracy, and complacency.” As investors, we need to do the same for ourselves. Brian points out that so many people have a great income, but they’re not turning it into wealth.

Highlights from Charlie’s Berkshire Hathaway Letter

Charlie explains what the core competencies of Berkshire Hathaway are:

  • All employees should be invested in the company.
  • They want win-win results for everyone – employees and investors alike. Everyone should benefit.
  • Berkshire stays away from short-term executives. Those executives that make decisions should be there to face the results at the end.
  • They seek to minimize bad effects that come from large bureaucracies at headquarters.
  • They want to personally spread the wisdom they’ve attained throughout the years. Education is important.

What’s the Take-Home Lesson for You?

Whether you’re advanced in your knowledge of personal finance, stock markets, and smart investing, or just starting out and eager to learn the basics, there are important lessons to be learned from each of these letters. What can you apply to your own business or financial situations?