Introducing a New Series! Min/Maxing Money

Ian introduces Min/Maxing Money, a new series that we'll be diving into on this channel over the next few months. What financial product do you want to see broken down into a 3 stat format?


What's up, internet? My name's Ian Bloom. Welcome to a new video series. We're going to be calling this series Min-Maxing Money. So let me introduce you to the basic premise.

In Min-Maxing Money, we are going to be talking about a singular financial product, whether that is an investment account, a type of investment, an insurance product, or anything else that we might study in the world of financial planning. I'm going to be giving you some basic stats for that thing. We'll talk about the complexity or the knowledge required to use the product properly. We'll talk about the cost. How much money will this cost you, or what is the opportunity cost of using this product? Then we are going to talk about the time required to monitor or get the product or utilize it correctly because those are the three elements that you'll want to know.

If it has a high complexity, you're going to have to spend a lot of time and energy researching this or get a professional involved, which will increase your cost. The cost is important because this is financial planning, and we want to utilize our dollars properly. We want to min-max them just like min-maxing stats in D&D.

In the time category, it is important because your time is valuable. It is the one thing that I cannot get you more of as a financial planner. So if we are going to be giving up time on something, it better have a pretty huge financial payoff for you.

So those are the three stats that we'll be covering. I will also talk about the relative payoff of each product when it's being used properly within the financial plan. Now, I want to put a little asterisk here and say properly is important because just because you're utilizing an annuity or a certain type of investment, doesn't mean you're getting the most out of it. You may need to do some of that complexity research or get a professional involved to make sure that you're utilizing the product properly. So that is the rundown on this series.

I wanted to go back and redo some of the old school web cam grainy Ian recording for the first time on YouTube videos, because I thought that some of the topics were really important and the content really wasn't as good as it could be. So over the next two weeks or three weeks, you will get two of these videos per week. Then following that, we'll be back on a regular weekly release schedule. I wanted to get a few of these out so that I could remove some of the older videos on the channel, or at least usurp their throne, so to speak.

If you have any topics that you definitely want to see covered, make sure to let me know. I would love to cover the topic that is on your mind, whether that's anything from buying a house to some specific financial instrument, to something that may not even have a direct financial product, but might be a financial concept that you want to see covered. So just let me know about that. If you're a viewer, then I'm way more interested in covering something you're interested in than something I'm interested in.

I hope that you enjoy this series. The stats graphics will hopefully be very eye-pleasing, and the videos will be short, sweet, and to the point to make them easier to consume and to make the products easy to understand. Anyway, thank you so much for watching. I look forward to bringing you a lot of content over the next three weeks, and have a wonderful day.

Through Great Effort

"What is better - to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?” -Paarthurnax, Skyrim

This quote is from the epic role-playing game Skyrim. When you are at the peak of the world, questioning Paarthurnax about why he is the only dragon that isn’t setting fire to the humanoid civilizations, he responds with that quote. It’s an interesting philosophical question that he poses to you. In the lens of the game, Paarthurnax is making a case for his way of life, that by overcoming his evil nature through meditation and self-isolation he has become good and that his path is inherently more noble than that of a person who does good with little effort.

I think this quote transcends the medium that it’s used in, a video game, and is applicable to much of our lives in the modern era. We are all born under different circumstances in this world, but what is most important is how you overcome your individual trials and obstacles to “overcome your evil nature through great effort.” Conquering these challenges is how we become the ideal versions of ourselves.

I was born into an upper middle class household. I wouldn’t say my family never struggled, but the struggles were rarely due to finances. My father worked a high-paying job when I was a kid, but I rarely got to see him. Between his long hours and my parents’ eventual divorce, I was closer to my mother until my teenage years. My other struggles came from a different place - finding meaning and generosity in a world that seemed so cruel. That initially emerged for me through the lens of psychology, which morphed into financial life planning when I discovered it.

“Why are you telling us your life story, Ian?” Put simply, it’s to outline something that I think gets lost in the modern debates about privilege. When someone says you are privileged, they don’t mean you haven’t had a hard life. I am privileged, yet divorce and the modern quest for meaning in an unforgiving world were deep emotional struggles I had to deal with my whole life. But my privilege insulated me from other difficulties that my peers have had to deal with.

I didn’t deal with poverty, I received an inheritance. I didn’t deal with violence, I was from a peaceful suburban home. I didn’t deal with malnutrition, I was fed well and often. I didn’t struggle to get my education, I was enrolled in a special “Magnet School” program through middle and high school and then my college was paid for.

I know people who have had to deal with all the things I just noted I didn’t, and much more. So when someone says I’m speaking from a place of white privilege, my comment back is “Yeah, I probably am. Tell me how you see things, please.” Because frankly, I am fortunate beyond all belief, so my perspective and experiences are different.

So how does this relate back to the sagely words of Paarthurnax? I view it as my responsibility to be a force for good. I was given a lot in life, some would say more than my fair share. I’m in no business to decide who gets what, but I am in a place where I can take some action to insure that others are given financial skills, financial assistance, and a place to open up about their difficulties. I take that responsibility seriously. It’s my life’s work.

Money is not good or evil, but being given fortune and not using it for the betterment of society, that is evil. It takes great effort to give up some of your fortune, but it is ultimately what we must do to be a force for good.

On that note, reader, if you are someone who is struggling financially and can’t see a way out...please reach out to me. Whether it’s an hour of time you need, or just someone to listen, I am happy to donate my time, skills, and effort to equipping you to tackle your financial life. Everyone needs help sometimes.

If you fall into another camp as a reader, someone who has much and needs less, then I would encourage you to donate to the people who are struggling right now. Black lives are currently highly at risk, and the protesters are on the front lines. Here is a link to my local bail fund, but find your state’s if you’re most interested in helping elsewhere. Otherwise, I encourage you to donate to Give Directly, a charity that provides financial resources to disenfranchised communities, your local homeless shelter, or any other charity that suits your fancy. As a bonus, I can tell you that some of the highest moments of self-actualization come when you are giving to others. You’ll enjoy it.

And thanks, Paarthurnax (and Bethesda’s design team) for giving me a life-defining quote in a place few look for them. Through great effort, we can all be better.

All of That Extra Stuff

Ian Bloom, CFP® Covers the Extras tier of the Hierarchy of Cash Flow. All of that extra stuff we want, that's advertised to us constantly, is a lot more exciting to purchase if you know you don't have to give up your future goals and dreams to acquire it!


What's up internet? My name's Ian Bloom. Welcome to nerd finance. I'm your resident financial life planner and huge nerd. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about the final stage in this hierarchy of cash flows, which is extras. From a gaming perspective, which is how I like to talk about everything if you haven't figured that out by this point in the series, extras is when you are super powerful in the game. Not only do you understand the system, but you have maximized it to your benefit in every other aspect possible, and now you're just adding the icing on the cake. That cool legendary sword, or that piece of equipment that enables you to dominate any of the enemies or opposition you come up against. Extras is really just the extra stuff to enjoy the spice of life.

It might be getting takeout once a week. It might be spending extra money on gaming accessories, or sporting equipment, or going to concerts. Any of those things can be extras that are very enjoyable. And as we already talked about, extras can be woven through the different stages in some form or fashion. We do live in a consumer culture. So you will be advertised a lot of extras, like maybe that League of Legends skin that you want, or maybe that really good food that you saw in the commercial.

Those things are okay to buy occasionally for yourself in any one of these stages. But once you have all four of the previous stages taken care of, you get to enjoy the extras that you can afford guilt-free, which is the amazing part. It's way less stressful to spend money on extras when you know that the other things are taken care of, you have made sure that you have a roof over your head and the utility bills paid, you've made sure that you can continue to do that for the next six months, regardless of what happens with your employment. You have money that is growing towards your future and your financial independence, and you have some of the things that were core to the things that you wanted out of life. Whether that be that extra home in the mountains, or the cool car, or the trip to Europe.

And so now you get to focus on spending money on yourself, just for the heck of it. And boy, is that a joyous place. When you see people who are clearly living in the extra stage and have no guilt about it, you can see the joy on their face when they give to others. You can see the absolute purity of the fun that they're having. And it's all because they made sure to address the other four stages first. And moreover, all the other four stages and the extra stage look different for every person.

Some people like to live their lives very frugally. And so their retirement contributions in the future stage might not need to be that large. And some people like to live their lives a little lavishly. And so their retirement contributions might need to be greater in that same future stage, which may delay the amount of money that they have to focus on the extras. But whatever the situation is for you, just make sure that you're taking care of the core things before you move on to spending money on all of the flippant extras, though they are very enjoyable.

I hope you have a wonderful day. And I hope that this video has been, and the series has been, very, very helpful to you. The cashflow, a hierarchy tool is one that I have loved using with my clients. So I hope it benefits you as well. Have a wonderful, wonderful day. And thanks for watching.

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