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Weekend reading: recovering from regrets

What caught my eye this week.

A couple of weeks ago Nick Maggiulli of Dollars and Data fame conceded [1] that lately he’d been writing for the Google’s search algorithm, rather than about what really interested him.

And doing so was destroying Nick’s passion for blogging:

I can’t keep doing this and preserve my creative sanity.

One of the reasons I’ve been able to blog consistently for nearly seven years is because I’ve always chosen what I write about.

I’ve been able to follow my curiosity wherever it has led me. Unfortunately, this year I strayed a bit from that path.

And while I don’t consider it a major mistake, I’m glad I realized what was going on before it was too late.

Happily this change of direction has immediately paid off with one of the best posts he’s ever written (and that’s saying something…)

Exploring why you should never look too far down roads you didn’t take – in life or investing – Nick argues [2]:

I’m here to tell you that this kind of thinking is a mirage. It’s pure fantasy. Because the way you think things would’ve turned out is not the way they actually would’ve turned out.

How you imagine an experience is a theoretical exercise. It’s a mental simulation of your past. But, how you live through that experience in real-time tends to produce very different results.

Nick illustrates his point with a graph that shows why basketball star Magic Johnson’s alternatively lived experience where he chose sponsorship by Nike over Converse – thus supposedly ending up $5bn richer – would have at least felt very different over a long reality, and may never have happened at all.

Anyone who invests actively knows about these lost fantasies all too well.

I wrote about it with respect to my hugely costly Tesla sale [3] a few years ago, for instance.

Others mourn the house they didn’t buy or the job they didn’t take – or outside of the financial realm, the person they didn’t marry or the musical instrument they gave up on despite some talent.

I wouldn’t say that thinking about these missed opportunities is entirely pointless, or even that they’re somehow not real decisions and outcomes.

In many cases they are all too real. Maybe we did make a mistake.

I should have held onto Tesla – and I should have bought my first flat in London in 1998, not 2018!

But it’s that the way we think about them is so often faulty. A lot of the time the motivation is to make ourselves feel bad, not really to learn anything.

In that case it’s better to look forward, not back.

Searching questions

As for writing for the search algorithm instead of for real readers, I see that temptation too.

At Monevator we lost about half our search traffic overnight in summer 2021, due to a capricious-seeming Google change that appears to have nothing to do with the quality of our content.

It’s been hugely frustrating.

There’s a balance to be struck, of course. Google needs to have guidelines, for the sake of a good searching experience.

But I can’t help thinking the tail is too often now having to wag the dog. And nobody starts blogging – or doing any other sort of creative endeavour – to please a robot. (At least not yet!)

I might also add that if you subscribe [4] to get our articles as free emails, then you’re one fewer reader we have to try to recapture again via the harsh lottery of Internet search.

Anyway, do read Nick’s post [2] – and have a great and balmy weekend.

From Monevator

Maximising FSCS protection for your investment portfolio – Monevator [5]

From the archive-ator: Sad story stocks – Monevator [6]


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.

Treasury braced for an 8% rise in pensions because of triple-lock [Search result]FT [7]

Triple-lock could add £45bn to state pensions bill by 2050, says IFS – Guardian [8]

UK rejoins EU science research scheme Horizon – BBC [9]

Housing cost fears reach record levels… – Which [10]

…though mortgage rates just fell for sixth consecutive week – Mortgage Solutions [11]

Vet pricing review, on fears of rip-off charging – BBC [12]

Britons least likely to say work is important to them, study finds – Guardian [13]

UK crypto firms get three-month reprieve on new marketing rules – Yahoo [14]

NHS to begin autumn Covid jabs next week as new variant spreads – Guardian [15]


The puzzling underperformance of performance fees [Search result]FT [17]

Products and services

Could NS&I spark a rates war on one-year fixed savings? – Which [18]

Monzo’s new ‘call status’ tool aims to stop impersonation scams – Monzo [19]

Twenty ways to save on household bills and living costs – Which [20]

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and get £100 to £3,000 cashback. Terms apply – Interactive Investor [21]

How much will Amazon’s same-day Prime delivery cost you? – Be Clever With Your Cash [22]

“Do I really have to tax and import duties on £145 trainers bought from EU site?” [Oh my sweet child. Sit down and let me tell you about this genius idea they had called Brexit [23]…]This Is Money [24]

Open an account with low-cost platform InvestEngine via our link [25] and get £25 when you invest at least £100 (T&Cs apply. Capital at risk) – InvestEngine [25]

Top cash ISAs right now – Money Saving Expert [26]

New mortgage lender Perenna offers 30-year fixed-rate deals – Guardian [27]

Why almost every Omaze dream home winner puts it up for sale – Metro [28]

Warehouse-style apartments for sale, in pictures – Guardian [29]

Comment and opinion

Global stocks = more stocks – Oblivious Investor [30]

Time for the UK to tax inflation [Search result]FT [31]

Who knows how long we have? – A Teachable Moment [32]

Dollar-cost averaging in a bear market wins again – A Wealth of Common Sense [33]

Compound interest misconceptions – Lazy FI Dad [34]

How to emotionally prepare for retirement – Kindness FP [35]

Rethinking restraint – Humble Dollar [36]

Will I keep spending more and more money forever? – Vox [37]

The trimesters of retirement – Financial Advisor [38]

Life after growth and soul loss – Simple Living in Somerset [39]

Bonds are back mini-special

[All US but relevant or interesting]

Bonds aren’t boring anymore – Quiet Wealth [40]

What ‘escape velocity’ means for a fixed-income portfolio – Morningstar [41]

The bond bear market and asset allocation – A Wealth of Common Sense [42]

Should bond fund investors be going long? – Morningstar [43]

What to do about high interest rates [Mortgage bit US-centric]M.M.M. [44]

Naughty corner: Active antics

Sing me a song of valuation… – Wisdom Tree [45]

…US small-cap value stocks look very cheap Vs large-cap growth – Validea [46]

A primer on multi-strategy hedge funds [Podcast]Invest Like The Best [47]

Deep dive into building materials supplier Howdens Joinery – Flyover Stocks [48]

John Lee: my dividend strategy continues to deliver [Search result]FT [49]

Kindle book bargains

How to Read Numbers by Tom Chivers – £0.99 on Kindle [50]

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt – £1.99 on Kindle [51]

Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull – £0.99 on Kindle [52]

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings – £1.99 on Kindle [53]

Environmental factors

Walking away from investing in the face of climate change – DIY Investor [54]

“Disaster”: UK auction secures no offshore windfarms – Guardian [55]

Life and death in American’s hottest city [Vital if miserable read]New Yorker [56]

Heat denial: influencers question high temperatures – Guardian [57]

Deep freezing coral reefs for the future – NPR [58]

Invasive species cost the world $400bn a year says UN – Semafor [59]

Robot overlord roundup

What OpenAI really wants – Wired [60]

How predictive technology is shaping everything from medicine to investing – I.I. [61]

Off our beat

The decomposition of Rotten Tomatoes – Vulture [62]

Giving $7,500 directly to homeless people worked well in a Canadian study – Vox [63]

A 95-year old cardiologist’s advice on living a long, happy life – CNBC [64]

The mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge [Nerdy]Tyler Vigen [65] [hat-tip A.R. [66]]

How to choose what advice to take – Art of Manliness [67]

Where on Earth? A geo-location quiz [Interactive, 7/8 to beat!]BBC [68]

And finally…

“The ease of online dealing makes many people act as if investing was positively scored, but the arithmetic of compounding dictates that it is really negatively scored. Success in investing consists mainly of avoiding big mistakes.”
– Guy Thomas, Free Capital [69]

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