A slide from our Personal Finance Day presentation: There is no such thing as a safe investment worth making.

There’s no such thing as a safe investment worth making: ‘Personal Finance Day’ notes

I’ve shared before what a strange nerd I am. I tackle learning in a full-force kind of way, and I love to pair seeing old friends with new experiences and ideas.

For the third year, two childhood friends and I came together Saturday for dinner and drinks and elaborate slide presentations sharing lessons we had learned about the difficult and tricky and complex world of business and retirement planning and, yes, wealth creation.

Indeed, it was the third annual Personal Finance Day.

I wanted to share a few things we talked about that might transfer well. And use this as a reminder: when something as stressful and arcane as personal finance intimidates you, find friends, make whiskey sours and dive in and discuss. You’ll be surprised how much fun you can have.

We talked about business books, which I have a complicated relationship with, in addition to podcasts and message boards and other places we gather information. At the end of the evening, we all shared things we’ve learned.

Here are some notes worth sharing:

  • There is no such thing as a safe investment worth making. This is also a recurring conversation of ours but it came up several times in our evening.
  • Cryptocurrencies are wacky: Boy if we had our PFD a few weeks earlier as originally scheduled, our planned decision to buy some additional crypto together as a comparison and learning experience would have been a lot more profitable. Still, at peak attention, we did a lot of sharing and talking about the various popular options, trends and thoughts on our participation. (One friend had more than doubled his money in the last several months, having already taken out enough to cover his initial investment.)
  • Ethereum has smart contracts in its sights. But bitcoin is the standout, though there are many other crypotcurrencies. Yes, we watched this video, among lots of other media.
  • Don’t be the first or the last to test an idea: It’s an old idea but when we get together, we always talk about the fundamental challenge of investing (by any definition): that in the future, you can always sound smarter by not taking the risk and instead just talking about what you might do. Bets are a tax on bullshit.
  • Joint finances are tricky: Combining incomes and splitting expenses has lots of value but gets trickier the deeper you get into it. As one friend noted, active casually dating can be way more expensive than a longer-term relationship.
  • “Micro speed and macro patience:” An extension of the above, we talked briefly about an interesting little rant from a popular branding strategist and self-help-guru type about over-planning your days and having long-term big plans, noting he thinks people do the opposite (screw around during the workday, but then think small and are impatient with their bigger goals.)
  • Rural real estate investments are tricky: One friend talked about his seeking out his first in our rural home county — and why it’s different.
  • When something isn’t working, most times you gotta spend less money on it. But other times, you gotta spend more. We talked a bunch about circumstances where short-term saving money can cause longterm challenges.
  • Think up strategies for boosting your team’s 401k participation. I clearly love this stuff, so I want my coworkers to be more involved in our company’s 401k plan. I have some ideas and we discussed ’em.

[Private Slides]