Monthly update: Spending everything, and a total lack of focus

May 28, 2022 4:06 am

Hi !

How was the merry month of May for you? According to the poem it should have been "so green, so green, so green", but if you spent any time looking at your investment performance you probably saw a lot more red.

Anyway, coming up:

  • My book is coming out soon!
  • The mission to spend all my money
  • A complete inability to focus on anything

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πŸ“– My book is coming out in two weeks!

A few weeks back I sent a draft of my book to some kind people who volunteered to give it an early read – and it was the scariest thing I've done for a long time.

After two years of work, I had no idea if it was any good or not. To my immense relief, the response has been overwhelmingly positive – and those early readers helped me identify areas for improvement that I'm currently adding into the final draft.

Oh, and it now has a title – which is:

The Price Of Money: How to prosper in a financial world that’s rigged against you

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

The only thing scarier than sending it out to generous advance readers is actually releasing it into the world – but I can't delay any further, so the book will come out on 16 July.

The Amazon algorithm is a voracious beast that needs feeding, so I'm coming up with some neat incentives to buy the book during the week of release.

Sign up here to read a sample chapter right now, and get a reminder on launch day so you don't miss out on those special bonuses.

(You know I don't do spam: after receiving your sample chapter you'll get 1-2 emails about this book, and nothing else.)

πŸ‘Œ This month in money

For most of my life, I've been careful with money. OK, tight. OK, likely adopted and my birth parents are from Scotland and Yorkshire respectively.

Then, at the end of last year, my friend Noel shared a book with me that changed everything: Die With Zero by Bill Perkins.

The argument goes roughly like this:

  • You need to work to earn money so you can live the life you want
  • But any time you spend working is time you can't spend having experiences that are important to you
  • Therefore if you live a great life and die with Β£0 in the bank, you've got it exactly right. If you die with significantly more than zero, you've done too much working and not enough living.

Of course, most people have a "not enough money" problem: this book doesn't help with that. This book is for the people who are sacrificing too much of today for the future, and are at risk of dying with a giant pile of cash yet not having lived their best life.

Bill makes the powerful point that the older you get, the fewer meaningful experiences your money will be able to buy because your health will inevitably decline. As a result, most people are delaying their spending for too long.

There are some obvious objections to this. One is that most people want to leave something to their kids. Bill's argument is that you should do this consciously: work out how much you want to give them and when it would have the most impact, and do it then instead of waiting until you die. If it's that important to you to help your kids, isn't it better to do it deliberately rather than leaving them a chance amount on a chance date? The same goes for charity: causes you care about will benefit from your money more now rather than later.

A good test of a "self-help" book is whether you make any changes as a result. Me? Within a week of reading it, we'd signed a contract to move into a new home in our dream location – and almost doubled our rent payment as a result. As a result we're enjoying life even more right now, instead of piling up more assets for some nebulous future. A great decision, and one I never would have made otherwise.

It's one of those books that's short, simple and obvious – and can bring about a powerful mindset shift as a result. You won't agree with everything, and that's fine. But if you recognise in yourself a tendency to live a little too much for the future, I highly recommend it.

✈️ Side-note: One expense I don't think I'll ever be able to justify, even after reading the book, is flying Business Class or First Class. The "cost per more comfortable hour" seems too high, and you still have all the general unpleasantness of the airport experience (which I dislike far more than the flying part). Do you have a different perspective? Let me know!

πŸ™‡β€β™‚οΈ This month in focus

My ability to focus on any task has become noticeably worse over the last couple of years – and everyone I speak to about this reports the same experience.

A book about this phenomenon came out recently... but as if I'm going to read that: I haven't finished a book in months.

I'm almost pathologically incapable of completing a task in one go. Frequently, I'll get nearly to the end of writing an email, then feel an irresistible need to quickly check something else before I finish it. It's like my brain is rebelling at the very idea of completing something in a single sitting.

My short-term memory is a mess too: my only chance of remembering something for more than 10 seconds is to deliberately repeat it over and over in my head ("put jam on the shopping list, put jam on the shopping list") and even then I fail most of the time.

Why has this happened? The go-to answer is "social media" or "mobile phones", but that doesn't seem complete to me. I barely use any forms of social media and I have all the notifications on my phone switched off...yet still I can't sustain attention.

What's the point of sharing this? I suppose the main one is "it's not just you": if you've noticed a degraded ability to focus, there's nothing wrong with you. Or at least, nothing more wrong with you than is wrong with everyone.

Now I've become aware of this, I'm not going to accept it. I'll be getting back into the meditation habit, using the pomodoro technique, and checking the subreddit NoSurf (which has 182,000 members – so I'm clearly not alone) for more tips.

I'll let you know if anything works. If you have anything that does the trick for you, please tell me!

πŸ“€ This month in business

At Property Hub, this month we raised a crowdfunding round that surpassed our wildest expectations. Having 800+ people believe in what we're doing enough to put money in (small amounts in the vast majority of cases) is amazing.

Now all we need to do is deliver on that trust. Lots of hard work ahead.

As a result of our major growth plans, I've spent the majority of my month interviewing potential employees. I used to hate it, but I've learned to enjoy it by putting on my curiosity hat: what could be more interesting than spending an hour learning all about another person's past, what drives them and how they see the world?

Nevertheless, it blows my mind that no-one's figured out a better way of matching people to jobs yet. Even the best interview processes take immense amounts of time and have a far from perfect success rate. From the job seeker's side, they're making hugely important life decisions with nowhere near enough information.

I have no idea what a better way looks like, but it's got to be one of the world's bigger opportunities to crack.

🍿 This month in media

♠️ I really enjoyed Molly's Game – a movie about Molly Bloom, who got busted for running illegal high-stakes poker games frequented by movie stars and billionaires. What I loved most is that this wasn't a six-part mini-series (like everything else seems to be) that dragged it out to breaking point: 90 minutes, strong story, get it done. Loved it.

πŸš€ Elon Musk is easy to poke fun at (the childish sense of humour, the child named X AE A-XII), but this interview reminded me what a phenomenal thinker he is. Because he's being interviewed by friends he's relaxed and jovial, and it brings out the best in him.

🧐 Something a little different: via Sam Harris, I heard about the short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin. It's probably a 10-15 minute read, and will stick with you for far, far longer.

That’s it for May! Feel free to write back and let me know what you've been up to.



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