Five Financial Myths We Need to Bury

In a world increasingly fueled by clickbait headlines and social media algorithms, easy one-size-fits-all advice and quick hacks get plenty of undeserved attention.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the realm of personal finance.

How many of these “golden rules” have you taken as gospel?

Let’s take it from the top.

1. The Latte Effect: The Millionaire’s Misdirection

You’ve likely heard of this one: skip that daily $5 latte, invest the savings, and boom – millionaire status awaits.

It sounds good on paper, but in reality, it’s an over-simplification. The ‘latte effect’ isn’t wrong, but it’s not the game-changer it’s made out to be.

Our focus shouldn’t be on small daily indulgences but on the big-ticket items: housing, cars, and education come to mind.

Make a poor decision in these big-ticket domains and no amount of coffee abstinence will save you.

Instead of depriving yourself of life’s small pleasures, save and invest diligently (ideally allocating at least ~15% of household income towards “future you”) and be smart about the big expenses.

2. “Follow Your Passion” is the Key to Wealth

This sounds poetic, right? But it’s problematic. Countless young people are told, “do what you love, and the money will follow.”

But here’s the hard truth: not all passions pay.

NYU Professor Scott Galloway regularly roasts the “follow your passion” advice. This short video gives a taste.

Generally speaking, a passion without a market is just a hobby.

Young adults, especially those considering shelling out six figures for a college degree, might be better served by identifying the areas where their skills and interests intersect with market demand.

This is not a suggestion to throw personal passions out the window. Rather, it’s about balancing passion with pragmatism.

Be passionate, but also be smart about where and how you deploy that passion.

3. A College Degree Guarantees Financial Success

Piggy-backing off “follow your passion” – let’s talk about college degrees.

While the college experience and a degree can provide valuable skills and networks, the idea that it’s a surefire ticket to prosperity is outdated.

We live in an age where information is abundant and often free. We’ve seen the rise of alternate educational models, online courses, and bootcamps that offer valuable skills at a fraction of the cost of traditional education.

This doesn’t mean skip college. Instead, be discerning.

Prospective undergrads (and graduate students) should understand the return on investment for a chosen degree.

Sometimes, the brand of the university might matter, sometimes the skills you gain are paramount.

Navigate this space with eyes wide open.

4. Renting is Money Down the Drain

The belief that home ownership is always superior to renting is ingrained in our psyche.

Reality check: a home can be both an asset and a liability.

Not only that, a home can tie the owners down geographically, homes are (relatively) illiquid, and they come with a slew of expenses: repairs, taxes, and maintenance to name a few.

Renting, on the other hand, provides flexibility.

In rapidly changing job markets and with the rise of remote work, this flexibility can be a significant advantage.

The idea here isn’t to swear off buying, but rather to understand that renting can be a strategic choice, not just a last resort.

5. The Stock Market is Just Legalized Gambling

Many folks toss investing into the same basket as rolling dice in Vegas. But equating the stock market with gambling is an incorrect oversimplification that can deter potential investors.

When someone sits down at the roulette wheel or slot machine, they’re placing bets on outcomes largely defined by chance.

The stock market, on the other hand, while inherently risky and unpredictable in the short term, behaves quite differently over the long haul.

A thoughtful investor recognizes that, over long periods, the stock market has trended upwards.

Moreover, investing offers tools and mechanisms to mitigate risks. Diversification, or spreading investments across various assets, is a tactic employed to manage potential losses.

However, it’s worth noting that short-term investing does veer closer to gambling. This type of “investing” is focused on speculation and short-term gain. But painting the entire stock market with the same speculative brush is misleading.

Understanding the difference between short-term speculation and long-term globally diversified investing is crucial.

Instead of seeing the market as a roulette table where you place quick bets, envision it as a carefully tended garden that requires seeds (invested funds), water (additional contributions), and sunlight (patience).

Closing Thoughts

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, old playbooks can be more hindrance than help.

Challenge these myths (and others!) by questioning conventional wisdom, arming yourself with up-to-date knowledge, and cultivating a mindset

Light Management for Optimal Health

When it comes to optimizing health and longevity, the lion’s share of attention is given to nutrition, fitness, relationships, and sleep.

But have you ever considered light exposure?

Inspired by what we’ve learned from Dr. Andrew Huberman on his episode about Using Light (sunlight, blue light, and red light) to Optimize Health, we were struck by the fact that light isn’t just about vision; that it’s also a potent influencer of our biology, health, and ultimately, our performance.

Light’s Profound Influence

Our relationship with light is the largest driver of our sleep-wake cycle (i.e. circadian rhythm). However, it’s also now clear that light can transform:

  • gene expression
  • hormone levels
  • mood

Additionally, different wavelengths have different effects, with shortwave light (blue, UV) impacting the skin’s surface and longwave light (like red) reaching deeper tissues—even bone.

Managing Light Exposure to Combat Depression & Anxiety

Let’s begin with why light management is important.

For starters, blue light exposure (i.e. light from our phones, laptops, tablets, TVs) between the hours of 10pm and 4am has been shown to be pro-depressive.

Between 2005 and 2017, anxiety and depression disorders among young adults (those 18-30 years old) has increased 63%. While a host of reasons can be attributed to this rise, it’s hard to understate the impact of light.

Light impacts our circadian rhythm which plays a major role in several brain and behavioral processes, such as neurotransmission and hormone secretion.

Trouble sleeping is one of the most common symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety and as little as just 2 hours of blue light exposure in the evening can impact the release of melatonin and disrupt sleep.

Harnessing Light for Peak Performance

View sunlight by going outside within 30-60 minutes of waking.

If you wake up before the sun is out and you want to be awake, turn on artificial lights and then go outside once the sun rises.

On bright cloudless days: view morning sun for 10 min; cloudy days: 20 min; very overcast days 30-60 min. If you live someplace with very minimal light, consider an artificial daytime simulator source.

Don’t wear sunglasses for this practice if you safely can, but contact lenses and eyeglasses are fine.

And NO, you don’t have to look directly at the sun, and never look at ANY light so bright it is painful to view!

That said, you can’t wear a brimmed hat, sunglasses and remain in the shade and expect to “wake up” your circadian clock.

***Do this again in the late afternoon, prior to sunset.***

Avoid viewing bright lights—especially bright overhead lights between 10 pm and 4 am.

Here is a simple rule: only use as much artificial lighting as is necessary for you to remain and move about safely at night.

Blue blockers can help a bit at night but still dim the lights. Viewing bright lights of all colors are a problem for your circadian system.

Candlelight and moonlight are fine.

Refrain from blue or UV light exposure after 8 pm.

This is especially important for those prone to mood swings or depression.

Devices, screens, and certain LED lights can emit these wavelengths, so consider screen filters or specialized blue light blocking glasses.

I (Dennis) have used Spectra 479’s clip on blue blockers for years now, they attach directly to my prescription lenses.

Navigating Night-time Disruptions:

If you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid flipping on bright lights.

Instead, consider using longwave (red) light, which doesn’t disrupt melatonin—a critical sleep hormone.

Red light is also ideal for night owls, shift workers, or new parents up for childcare.

Being awake at night is sometimes a necessity. In such cases, red light is the top choice.

Final Thoughts

Optimizing light exposure, understanding its nuances, and aligning it with your daily routine could be the game-changer you’ve overlooked.

It’s not just about productivity but also about well-being. With the right light protocols, you can shine the brightest in both your professional and personal life.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this newsletter is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions or changes to your healthcare plan.