Empowering your personal finance success… starts here!

Updated: May 3

Personal Finance and general financial literacy are critical for making the most of your financial resources. It is very doable! Unfortunately, financial literacy is often neglected.

There was a time in the United States when financial literacy was not as critical. Most companies provided a pension program (Defined Benefit). You did not really have to think about it. Your retirement was taken care of. Today, pensions are almost gone, replaced by portable, self-service-oriented 401(k) programs (Defined Contribution). Also, there are even more "gig workers" needing to completely self-service their retirement. The bottom line is, the need for self-driven financial literacy is greater than ever.

Unfortunately, many are falling through the cracks. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Americans are having retirement challenges. It would seem the switch from pension to 401k has caught entire generations unprepared.

I've been asked, "What is the secret formula to financial success?" The truth is, there is no single "secret sauce." I think of financial success as the long-term outcome of a series of small but smart financial decisions.

The hard part is, you don't realize financial success until after those smart financial decisions have been made. Behavioral economists cite decisions lacking salience, whether personal finance or even global warming-related decisions, as significant impediments to reaching long-term success. [i]

While not all decisions are financial, almost all significant decisions have a personal finance impact.

The good news is, with a little preparation, your financial success is very doable. Your road to personal finance success is about personal discipline and broadly applying personal finance concepts to your life. Our ability to manage our emotions, stay focused, and be disciplined is the key to victory. It has little to do with your knowledge about business, math, or trading strategy. In other words, knowing yourself, being patient AND persistent, plus applying stoic-like focused discipline power your long-term wealth.

You may be thinking, this does not sound too difficult, so why are so few people saving? Unfortunately, our brains are not wired for long-term savings. It is a result of our evolutionary biology. This means retirement savings and other personal finance decisions must be intentional, it is not in our natural “default” wiring. This is where the Stoic's Arbitrage comes into play:

First, a stoic believes knowledge fuels personal power and that education is our greatest source of power. Also, a stoic believes in mastering their emotions as a source of power to make the most of their life, including their personal financial ability. A stoic focuses on external knowledge, like personal finance. A stoic also focuses on internal knowledge, to master their emotions. A stoic tends to choose courage and calm over anger. A stoic believes in providing kindness to others. [ii]

Second, arbitrage is about making high-value choices. In the financial world, this involves the buying or selling of assets in different markets to take advantage of price differences. In our day-to-day world, a successful knowledge arbitrage results from making high-value choices between available options. Our stoic-based knowledge becomes the basis for a successful knowledge arbitrage.

The Stoic's Arbitrage is where we use our stoic-informed knowledge to make good personal finance choices. The Stoic's Arbitrage is a lifelong journey. Think of it as a series of regular, smart, and positive habit-forming financial decisions leading to significant long-term value. Personal finance success is merely the cumulative value of those regular, smart decisions.

We are super excited to share our Stoic's Arbitrage personal finance curriculum! The curriculum is a series of “bite-sized” articles. The articles are accessible in order, to be read like a class. Or, they may be accessed as relevant to an anticipated life situation. [iii] No matter when you start, these articles will inform your personal finance success journey!

Finally, you still may be wondering “why?”…. what is the purpose of building long-term value using the Stoic’s Arbitrage? This is where the stoic’s kindness to others principle comes into focus. A stoic believes kindness to others is central to life. Building value and living a modest, utilitarian lifestyle enables your wealth capacity for kindness to others. While there are certainly other means to provide kindness, wealth will provide more options to deliver kindness to family, friends, and/or our community. One of my favorite related bible verses is from 1 Peter 4: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace…”

The Stoic's Arbitrage: Your Personal Finance Journey Guide

Core Concepts

1. Our Brain Model

2. Curiosity Exploration - An evolutionary approach to lifelong learning

3. Changing Our Mind

4. Information curation in a world drowning in data noise

Making the money!

5. Career choices - They kept asking about what I wanted to do with my life, but what if I don't know? - Part 1

6. Career choices - They kept asking about what I wanted to do with my life, but what if I don't know? - Part 2

7. Career success - Success Pillars - A Life Journey Foundation

8. Career choices - Do I need to be a Data Scientist in an AI-enabled world?

9. Career choices - Diamonds In The Rough - A perspective on making high impact college hires

Spending the money!

10. Budgeting - Budgeting like a stoic

11. Home Buying - Homeownership is an important wealth-building platform

12. Car Buying - Cutting through complexity: A car buying approach

13. College choice - The College Decision - Framework and tools for investing in your future

14. College choice - College Success!

15. College choice - How to make money in Student Lending

16. Event spending - Wedding and event planning guiding principle

Investing the money!

17. Investment thoughts for my children

18. Our Investment Barbell Strategy

19. Using the Stoic's Arbitrage to choose a great investment advisor

10. Anatomy of a "pump and dump" scheme

21. The Time Value of Money Benefits the Young

22. How Would You Short The Internet?

Pulling it together!

23. Capstone - The Stoic’s Arbitrage: A survival guide for modern consumer finance products


[i] Benartzi, Thaler, Heuristics and Biases in Retirement Savings Behavior, American Economics Association, 2007

[ii] I think of stoicism as a practical, highly relevant philosophy for today's world. The philosophy is ancient and has stood the test of time. Some of my favorite stoics are:

[iii] Daniel Fernandes, John G. Lynch, and Richard G. Netemeyer, "Financial Literacy, Financial Education, and Downstream Financial Behaviors," Management Science 60, no. 8 (2014): 1861.

This article suggests the most effective financial training is provided on a “just in time” basis - that is, in anticipation of a pending financial decision.

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