How to Use Expected Value to Save Time and Money

Make Everyday Decisions with the Mind of a Poker Pro

Poker legend Doyle Brunson is rumored to have been asked whether he would take the following bet. A coin is flipped. If it comes up heads, Doyle loses his entire net worth. Tails, he wins 10 times his net worth. Doyle responded, “I’d have to take that bet.”

Man flipping coin, representing Doyle Brunson's expected value decision

He’d “have to” take that bet because of a concept called expected value. Even if some of us wouldn’t take that particular bet, the concept of expected value can help us make better decisions in many areas of life, especially those involving time and money.

In this post, I’ll define expected value and show how you can use it to save time and money. (more…)

How to Avoid Paying a Flight Cancellation Fee

4 Ways to Cancel Flights for Free

Cancelling a flight is often costly. Most of the U.S. carriers charge $100-200 to cancel or change a nonrefundable, domestic ticket. In some cases, however, you can cancel without paying a flight cancellation fee.

Woman watching a plane depart

Following are 4 ways to cancel your ticket without paying a fee. I’ve used three of these four ways a good number of times. (more…)

Why I Proposed at the Foot of the Cross

And How Suffering is an Opportunity to Express our Love for What Matters Most

I wasn’t sure how to sneak a diamond ring into Israel without my girlfriend noticing. If I put it in my backpack, she might stumble upon it as we traveled. But if I carried it on me, would it set off the airport metal detector? The last thing I wanted was to have to show the ring to the TSA. If they saw it, my girlfriend would, too. What then? Would I drop to a knee and propose in airport security? I didn’t want to think about it.

Sarah and I praying at the foot of the Cross

Sarah and I praying at the foot of the Cross, where we got engaged

In the end, I carried the ring in a money belt, which I wore inside my pants, around my waist. (Yes, I thought that upon popping the question, my girlfriend would say “yes” despite the fashion statement that wearing a money belt makes. Guess I thought she really loved me.)

The only time I took that money belt off was to quickly send it through airport scanners. Otherwise, I kept it glued to me. And what with the Israeli heat, I don’t use “glued” lightly. (more…)

Deep Work: 4 Ways to more Time, Money, and Flourishing

Insights from “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Deep work significantly impacts all three of the aims of this blog: time, money, and what matters most. In this post I will define deep work. Then, I’ll show how it helps you have more time and money and how it helps you realize what matters most in life. Finally, I’ll share four ways to infuse your life with deep work.

Einstein, a model of deep work, standing in front of a chalk board with an equation written on it

Einstein modeled deep work, employing intense focus to achieve greatness.

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How to Save 20+ Hours/Year with a Free Password Manager

And My Recommendation for the Best Free Password Manager

How annoying is it when you can’t remember a password for an online account you need immediate access to? If you’re like this survey’s respondents, you find forgetting a password even more annoying than misplacing your keys or having your cell phone battery die.

Man yelling at laptop

Nearly 40% of sampled workers waste a whopping 24 hours per year entering passwords. If you don’t have that substantial problem, then your problem may be even worse. You may use the same password for everything. If so, you’re giving the keys to your financial accounts to folks at eBay, Facebook, Skype, etc.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a simple solution to all of the above problems. The solution is a password manager.

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Cashback vs. Miles and Points: Which is Better?

How to Get the Most out of Credit Card Spend

A reader named Blake wrote in to ask me the following question about credit card rewards: If your intent is to travel, would you rather have travel points rewarded you or straight cash? My thought is that with cash I have more freedom to search the cheapest flight, at the right time, going to the right place. Do you think this is a true assumption?

Man pondering whether cashback is the way to go

It’s a great question—one that probably a lot of folks have. Years ago, I agreed with Blake’s assumption. “Cash is king,” I thought. Often, it is. But sometimes, you can do better—even much better—with miles and points. Let me explain. (more…)

Multitasking Works in 2 Ways that Experts Fail to See

How to Know When to Multitask and When Not To

Multitasking used to be cool. People thought it possible and aspired to it. Now, however, so-called productivity experts condemn multitasking. But the picture of multitasking they paint is woefully incomplete. The experts fail to acknowledge two ways in which multitasking is not only possible but very efficient.

Mother multitasking: talking on phone while cooking and holding a baby

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4 Benefits to Bank Account Bonuses and How to Get Them

It is Possible to Earn $2,000+ Each Year from Bank Account Bonuses

Did you know that you can often earn $50-400 by opening a bank account? Such amounts, especially when earned repeatedly, can meaningfully boost a lot of folks’ finances. Also, for those who shouldn’t sign up for credit cards because they carry debt, signing up for bank accounts with big bonuses is a viable alternative.

Man receiving money from the bank

In this post I’ll explain what bank account bonuses are. I’ll cover their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll show you how to find the best bonuses. And I’ll assess whether bank account bonuses are a good deal. (more…)

How to Live the 80/20 Rule for What Matters Most

Why the 80/20 Rule is a Key Principle for Having More Time and Money

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of effects are determined by 20% of their causes. The rule is also known as the Pareto Principle, after the 19th Century Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto noticed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. (Weird thing to notice.) He also showed that about 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Man contemplating how he can use the 80/20 rule to achieve 80% of the result with 20% of the input

The Pareto Principle is not a law, like gravity. It’s a rule of thumb. It fits a wide array of phenomena. Consider, for instance, these applications of the rule across a variety of fields: (more…)

How My Family Just Took a $5,218 Vacation to Cabo San Lucas for $42

My family of five and my folks returned last week from a great vacation to Cabo San Lucas. I’ll tell you a bit about the trip via the pictures and captions in this post. But mostly I want to share how the seven of us paid a total of $42 for roundtrip flights and 5 nights at a 4-star resort. I want to give you ideas for how you can do the same. Because you can.

McAdam Family at Sunset in Cabo

My family attempting to pose for a picture on our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas

We had expenses on the ground such as transportation and food that went beyond the $42. But that’s how much we spent on hotel and flights. Here’s how: (more…)