Advice

Experts Maybe Not So Expert-y After All

We talk a lot around here about the people who hold themselves out as financial experts, and how they’re mostly full of bologna. And while we’re on the topic: Donald Trump! Why does anyone think of that dope as a paragon of financial acumen? The dude was born rich and still managed to go bankrupt.

We also dispense a fair bit of advice, or, at least, ponderous suggestions and strongly held opinions, even though none of us is, in any way, a certified expert in matters fiscal. Luckily, that doesn’t matter, because, as a new study reveals, professional mutual fund managers, who presumably would know a thing or two about managing their own money, are just as profligate, impetuous, and generally pound-foolish as the rest of us.

One of the researchers involved suggests that the main takeaway is “average investors might be better off managing their own stock portfolios rather than paying a high-fee mutual-fund managers, because beating the market is rare and very difficult.” That is surely true, but doesn’t go far enough. Average people, who mostly don’t invest in anything beyond groceries, rent, and used cars, should take great solace in knowing that even to the experts, money is basically inscrutable and advantageous decisions are elusive. So go ahead and lace up your fancy sneakers, put your iPhone in your pocket, and go buy a latte. There is a reason they call economics “the dismal science.” There is also probably a reason they call boxing “the sweet science,” but let’s not worry about that just now.

Photo by the author.

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How to Get a Freelance Gig: Tips From Someone Who Hires Freelancers, Part II

Okay, so now you know how to get a freelance gig—and you got the offer. Congratulations! The next thing you need to know is how to be the best damn freelancer ever, the person who aces the business parts of freelancing as well as the doing-the-work parts of freelancing.

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In Search of Lost Money and How it Just Got Easier

your money could be waiting for you right now, like little orphan Annie in the window of Miss Hannigan’s singing the wistful song, “Maybe.”

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Kids Trick-or-Treating Across Class Lines Makes 1%er Feel Faint

Halloween, as much as Thanksgiving, is a holiday about generosity.

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A Costume Designer Gives You 4 Ways to Win Halloween

This look is selfie-optimized and inspired by Hedy Lamarr and old-school showgirls, with a nod to Karl Sagan and the Egyptian goddess Nuit.

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Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

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“Is There Anything More Ironic Than Coming to Live in Des Moines”

“Is this Heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” –Field of Dreams

We’ve mentioned it here before on the site, so we’re not too surprised, but Des Moines is getting a lot of love these days. According to the National Journal, only half-jokingly, we should all be moving to Iowa, or at least visiting and considering it:

It was a normal night at the Social Club when we visited. The art gallery was open, just next to Capes Kafe coffee shop and comic-book store; upstairs, nine people in a comic-book drawing class watched an eccentric, gray-haired instructor in skinny black jeans and thick-rimmed glasses draw a cartoon about a retired Elvis impersonator named “Sid.” Out on the purposely graffitied porch with rope-spool tables, dozens of members of the local Young Nonprofit Professionals Network chapter met to network, drink, and take professional head shots.

Looking out over the courtyard marked by an old telephone tower and murals, Brianne Sanchez and Danny Heggen, both 29, describe the chapter they founded in 2013 for monthly coffee meetings. It has turned into a group of more than 550 members that successfully draws millennials downtown to connect and help each other out. It’s a quintessentially Midwestern mix of selflessness in a deep pool of ambition and drive.

“We always joke that Des Moines is a big small town,” says Heggen, a project manager for a firm that transforms old art deco buildings into new apartments. “But really, Des Moines is a large living room. There’s this homey feel. What I most want is everybody around me to be successful. And I believe that everyone wants that for me, as well.”

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Working While Pregnant

Sometimes the Gray Lady does a good deed. I mean, she spends a lot of time preening, and baiting us with the travails of the city’s most obnoxious, narcissistic 22-year-old as he searches for a $3700-a-month apartment big enough to decorate like an Orientalist bordello, complete with a huge oil painting of himself. But sometimes she also manages to help an unfairly fired pregnant woman get her job back:

Ms. Valencia, who earned $8.70 an hour as a potato packer for Fierman in the Bronx, was told by her supervisors in August that she could not continue working unless her doctor gave her a full-duty medical clearance. (Ms. Valencia, who had a miscarriage last year, was told by her doctor that she should work only eight hours a day, no overtime.) Lawyers for Ms. Valencia said the company had violated New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Her story was the subject of a Working Life column on Monday.

My god, what employers will try to get away with when they think nobody’s looking. Sadder still is that most of the time, nobody is looking. If you’re working while pregnant, know your rights.

 

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How to Eat Right, Office Lunch Edition

Keep almonds by your computer. What if I don’t like almonds? Also, they’re expensive. STOP TELLING ME TO EAT ALMONDS, unless you feel like subsidizing my almonds, and/or dipping them in chocolate for me.

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How to Ask for Money

Everyone resents being used; donors want to be seen as people, not purses, and good petitioners will treat them that way. Good petitioners will likewise make sure they are seen as people and not merely black holes of need.

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How to Stay Married: Splurge on the Honeymoon, Not the Open Bar

“Couples who make more than $125,000 a year (combined) cut their divorce risk in half.” So, yeah. You don’t have to be wealthy for San Francisco, just wealthy for Arkansas.

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