Life Hacks and Tips in the Modern World

31 Lessons You’ll Instantly be Able to Implement Into Your Life

Source: Drew Rae on Pexels.

If you can’t buy it outright, then you shouldn’t finance it. This always sounds like straightforward advice, but the numbers tell a different story. The typical American household today carries an average debt of $137,063. That number was $50,971 in 2000. The total credit card debt in America is around $1 trillion, or about $8–9,000 per household.

Find an S&P 500 tracking fund or a Russell 2000/3000 tracking fund and just keep adding your disposable income to it. A lot of people out there talk about funds and active management. Financial jargon is just that — jargon. Over half of fund managers underperform the S&P 500 index after a year. After 10 years, over 90% of the funds underperform the index.

Image for post
Image for post
Percentage of funds underperforming S&P after select years. Source: CNBC, datawrapper, market data.

If your monthly expenses are pushing over half of what your monthly income is, then your expenses need to come down. Bad times happen. They’re real. Here is a chart showing the change in homeowner equity over the years.

Image for post
Image for post
Homeowner equity, in billions. Source: FRED

Notice that between 2007 to 2010, about $7 trillion in homeowner equity vanished. That’s because the biggest damage done by the mortgage crisis wasn’t to the banks — it was to the homeowner. Most families have nearly all their net worth tied to their house. When the mortgage couldn’t be paid off, the banks were thrilled to take them back. The only problem was that the homes weren’t worth nearly what they used to be. Any equity people had collected in their homes went to the banks in an attempt to collect on their unpaid mortgage. Keeping your expenses down saves you from the storm later.

If it’s too good to be true, then the people selling you the service are scamming you (Think Motley Fool, The Raging Bull, etc). If you see the advertisement about somebody making millions within a year or two, you need to laugh it off and go about your day. Renaissance Technologies is a hedge fund based out of New Jersey that has made $100 billion in trading gains on their most exclusive fund. That’s about 70% in annualized returns. They don’t advertise, and nobody really knows what they are doing. They’re mathematicians, statisticians, signal processors, computer scientists, physicists. Doctoral degrees across the board and some of the brightest minds. Meanwhile, we have advertisements from people nobody has ever heard of claiming they want to help you make millions on a tiny subscription of just about $30 per month.

Speak up early and speak up often. The key to speaking well is to speak frequently.

Things are only impossible until they’re not.

Be confident in public and humble in private.

The difference between a Toyota Prius and a BMW M4 is a lot of monthly financed per month, or about $80,000 extra laying in the bank. They’re both on four rubber tires.

The cash in your bank looks better than the material item you are temporarily dreaming about. Everything loses its polish.

The best things in your life aren’t things. They’re people. Love is free. It’s the world’s most powerful force.

If you ask more questions and speak less than the people around you, people around you find you more interesting. If you don’t believe me, look at all the people Charlie Rose has interviewed over the years. He loves asking good questions. People love speaking to him because he is genuinely interested in hearing the things they have to say.

There are a number of things to do when purchasing a used car. I always try to at least match the registered owner to the person’s identification selling me the car. Take an OBD II to screen the car for any engine codes as well before you purchase the car. There are a million other things to look at when purchasing a used vehicle, but I would make saying no one of my priorities. Remember that you aren’t forced to purchase anything and that if a deal feels bad it usually is bad.

Time is only moving forward, always. Keep this in mind prioritizing certain commitments. You don’t get those minutes or hours back.

The best answers are the evolution of what most people would think is a really stupid question.

If the math seems bad or sketchy, walk away.

If you’re hungry and bored, then you’re actually bored. Drink water and wait about an hour.

If you’re getting coffee, get it black instead. Try to down that instead of what you normally drink. It’s nearly no calories. Any venti hand-made drink from Starbucks is going to be 600 calories. That’s a cheeseburger with two pieces of meat. If you can’t do the coffee completely black, just add a splash of soy milk. If anything, remain cognizant of how much food you’re drinking.

You can drive yourself crazy thinking too hard about anything. Try it. Better yet, don’t try it.

If you’re shopping online, put the items you love into the cart. Go into the check-out screen, but don’t finish checking out. Close out the page and wait a few days. You’ll get an e-mail from the company giving you a coupon to come back and finish checking out.

Ask for credit card limit increases whenever possible. If your credit is in great standing, you’re only going to look better — and more responsible — with a larger credit line available to you.

Most debt can only be recovered within 4 years legally (at least in California). After 7 years, it falls off your credit report altogether. Check your state’s laws. Know your rights. California has the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Buy clothes that fit, not clothes associated with a brand. You look far better and feel more confident in clothes that fit you well. People will notice.

Think small on the things that depreciate, larger on the things that appreciate. Acceleration of wealth is key, not just growth.

Here is a thought experiment on acceleration:

Person A has $10,000 and places his money into an investment portfolio generating, on average, 7% each year for 10 years. At the end of the first year, this person has an extra $700 in their account. That’s awesome.

Person B has $10,000,000 and places his money into the same portfolio. After the first year, this person has an extra $700,000. The typical median household income in the United States is $56,516. That’s approximately 12.5 household incomes and you haven’t even started working yet. At some point, money returns absurd amounts even if the percentage is small: Because the proportion is large.

Pretty much every piece of academic text is available on Libgen if you need it. Nobody buys textbooks anymore.

You don’t owe people an explanation. You don’t need to explain your dreams. Just start working on them. Fill the gaps as you go along.

If you’re trying to find parking at a home-improvement store, stay away from the close spots. A lot of contractors park their trucks there, and they drop nails all over the place. You can easily end up with a flat tire.

Some people used to do this at my school. If you have a long night of studying and are scared you might oversleep, drink a lot of water. You’ll wake up in a few hours because you need to pee, anyway.

If your grandparents are alive, ask them about their childhood. You’ll learn a great deal about your family and yourself.

Keep in communication with most people. You don’t know who will skyrocket to the top, or when you might need some help.

Most politicians are crooks. Don’t listen to what they say, research what they’ve done. Look at their voting record instead. Almost every single U.S. president has spoken to the Armenian community across America about recognizing the Armenian genocide. Once they have the votes of my people, they seldom speak about the genocide anymore.

People make mistakes. People do things to harm you on purpose, and then try to make them look like mistakes. Know the difference between the two.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store