Hi all👋! I have an incredibly packed newsletter to share with you, so I’ll keep the intro short. I’m going to run through…
- My 10 biggest takeaways from the past 94 episodes of the podcast (and what I will focus on in 2023 because of them)
- My top 10 hacks from 2022
- My top credit cards from the past year (based on my spending data)
In each takeaway, I’ll highlight the episodes they’re from, so if you want to learn more, you can click through to read the show notes and/or listen to the full episode. While the takeaways aren’t ordered by priority, I did save my top two for last. And if you found any part of this email valuable, the most meaningful thing you can do for me is to share it with anyone else you think might enjoy it. Thanks so much and happy near year!
⌛ Productivity and Time Management
Takeaway #1: I have the time, but need to better prioritize and say no more often.
Laura Vanderkam (🎧 Ep7) was my first guest about time management and a story that really stuck out for me was when she demonstrated how a water-heater flood could magically make three to four hours appear in even the tightest of schedules. We all have time, 168 hours a week to be precise, so when I feel like I don’t have any, I try to realize I either overcommitted or didn’t prioritize well. I’ve begun to implement a Calendar Audit to be more diligent in how I spend my time.
Brandon Turner (🎧 Ep82) stressed the importance of setting boundaries. I've learned to say no to meetings and stop chasing things that are not at the top of the priority list. I now regularly propose Loom as an alternative to video calls, because it’s asynchronous and you speed up the video to 2x. An added benefit is that some people view it as too much work that they give up on trying to connect with you.
Takeaway #2: I can simplify my financial decisions with rules, and consolidate and automate my savings and retirement.
Ben Carlson (🎧 Ep42) and Andy Rachleff (🎧 Ep19) discussed the importance of simplifying finances, but it was Ramit Sethi's (🎧 Ep9) money rules that moved me to act. In his book, he shared his 10 Money Rules that help make his financial decisions easy. Amy and I started with one rule, "discuss any purchases over $200 with each other first”, but I hope we can put together a more comprehensive list in 2023.
Also, I opened a lot of bank and investment accounts while I was building consumer finance products. It is stressful to have my money spread across so many places, but fortunately, I have already moved my investments to Wealthfront (where I happily pay for a fee smaller than the taxes I save each year from automated tax loss harvesting). My goal right now is to consolidate accounts to:
- 1 checking (SVB, because our mortgage is there)
- 1 high-yield cash (Wealthfront for 3.8% APY ← $30 Free)
- 1 brokerage (Wealthfront for Tax-Loss Harvesting ← $5k Managed Free)
- 2 401(k)’s (Fidelity + Vanguard, where our employers picked)
- 2 Roth IRAs (Wealthfront because it coordinates with the brokerage)
Just seeing this list makes me smile because I’m so used to having a few dozen accounts with balances in them. Also, with fewer accounts, saving will be a lot easier. I’ll actually be using a product I built at Wealthfront called Autopilot, which lets you set an amount to always keep in your checking account and emergency fund, and it will automatically transfer any excess to your IRAs, 529 accounts, and taxable investment accounts.
Takeaway #3: I get better results when I ask better questions.
Kwame Christian (🎧 Ep17) runs the American Negotiation Institute and he showed me how his question-based framework can best prepare you for any negotiation. Think about the following:
- What do you want and why?
- What the other side wants and why?
- What are all the open-ended questions you could ask in the conversation?
He also shared his Compassionate Curiosity framework. You begin by acknowledging and validating others' feelings, then by being curious and asking them questions with compassion, you can collaboratively solve your problems.
Finally, Andy Rachleff (🎧 Ep19) gave me an amazing negotiating tactic. He says to always “put the gun in the other person's hand. If they fire, don't work with them." Most people don't like to be thought of as taking advantage of others, which is why this works so well. Nevertheless, if the ask is well in excess of reasonable, you can just walk away.
Takeaway #4: I should be more intentional about the things that are meaningful to me.
Regret was the subject of three incredible conversations.
First, Ben Nemtin (🎧 Ep36) talked about bucket lists. He had a whole journey that began after learning that more than 75% of people regret not living their lives on their terms.
Second, Dan Pink (🎧 Ep40) highlighted regret as the most instructive emotion we have and an essential part of our cognitive machinery. We discussed the four types of regret and how to deal with them.
Third, Jordan Grummet (🎧 Ep74) discussed living a more purposeful life. He spoke about how identity, purpose, and connections matter more than money.
What does that mean for me? In the same way that I want to be intentional with how I spend the hours of the day, I want to be intentional with the big things in life too, like the way our family spends time together, the trips we take, the friends we hang out with and more. So for starters, Amy and I plan to spend some time this week talking about what our lives in 2023 (and beyond) should look like.
Takeaway #5: I intend to strive harder to achieve an 80/80 marriage.
Nate and Kaley Klemp (🎧 Ep43) educated me on how marriage relationships have evolved. It started with the traditional 80/20 relationship, where one partner (usually the woman) does all the work in the relationship and for the family since the other serves as the breadwinner.
Many relationships today have now moved to 50/50, but the challenge is that many couples end up keeping a score of who's done what more. This competition can be exhausting.
After hundreds of interviews, Nate and Kaley have constructed the 80/80 relationship concept, in which both partners assume that they are doing their best and trying to pull more than half of the load.
I can say that our relationship has been much better as a result of it, even though it takes time and practice to get it to work. Check out our episode or their book on the topic to learn the tactics to make this work.
Takeaway #6: I can engineer more charisma in my communication.
As Vanessa Van Edwards (🎧 Ep46) illustrated, charisma is a balance of warmth and competence. I try to employ this formula in all my work.
She shared a lot of helpful techniques for achieving the right balance between nonverbal communication, vocal cues, and verbal cues. For instance, I know that emojis and exclamations can make you feel warm, so I try to tone them down or balance them out when sharing data or charts to increase my “competence”.
✈️ Points & Miles
Takeaway #7: I don’t need to get the perfect deal when using points.
Tiffany Funk (🎧 Ep89) busted a bunch of myths about when to use your points. I've spent so much time optimizing for a dollar-per-point value that I'm doing myself harm. Though I know I'm very fortunate to have so many points, I’m also ashamed that I don't use my points enough. I often find myself paying cash for flights because the redemption value was as good as I’ve gotten before.
She also pointed out that contrary to the thought that international business-class flights are the most efficient use of points, in the past few years, domestic award redemptions have been excellent too.
It's time to burn down our points balance instead of just looking for the absolute best deals (though I'm sure I'll still look).
💻 Life Online
Takeaway #8: I need to start organizing my digital life better.
Tiago Forte (🎧 Ep85) inspired me to build a second brain and it’s already started changing the way I save and consume information. As an example, I'm now saving so much of the content I find online into a reader app called Matter, which saves me time in three ways.
- I consume information in batches
- I can listen to those long articles instead of reading them, thanks to Matter's text-to-speech option
- It seems that half of the things I save seem to lose importance by the time I get back to them (so I save myself multiple 10-15 minute interruptions).
Next year, I want to focus on more intentionality and organization with my notes and tasks.
💯 Net Fulfillment
Takeaway #9: I need to focus more on net fulfillment than net worth.
The episode really rocked my world. In fact, Bill Perkins (🎧 Ep91) reframed my entire view of money by stating that we should actually start allocating our money so that, in the end, we will be at zero (or close to it).
I've been greatly influenced by FI/RE (Financial Independence Retire Early) for the past decade, and it has taught me to save and be frugal. I am grateful for all the savings, but wonder if we ended up saving too much instead of spending on things that were uniquely suited to our 20s/30s and would have had a huge impact on our fulfillment. You don't have to be reckless with your finances...just rethink the focus on growing net worth at all costs.
So what’s changing as a result of my conversation with Bill?
- Amy and I need to start thinking about the experiences we want to have in our 30s, considering that our kids will never be this young again and that these are the last few years of our 30s.
- I'm going to be more intentional about taking more photos and videos as we experience life so we can “harvest the dividends” of our memories in the future..
- It's time for me to start making decisions in life that maximize my fulfillment. During our recent trip to Europe, we didn't make the best use of miles or find any hotel deals, but we still went because we wanted to have the experience at this point in our lives.
Multiple listeners and friends have told me this is the best podcast episode they’ve listened to all year (of all podcasts, not just All the Hacks), so if this takeaway is at all interesting, you should absolutely listen to the episode and check out the Die with Zero book. I’ve already re-listened twice and each time I find a new way it’s going to impact my life.
Takeaway #10: I can capitalize on crystalized knowledge and happiness by going all-in on All The Hacks.
Arthur Brooks (🎧 Ep47) helped me redefine and find happiness and I’ve relistened to our conversation more than any other episode I’ve done (probably at least 4-5 times).
He says it’s important to remember that happiness is the combination of three macronutrients: enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. When you’re unhappy, you lack balance in one of these three, so you should start there to find happiness again.
In addition, we discussed how to make an impact on your happiness, and I learned a lot about fluid and crystallized intelligence curves.
- Fluid intelligence is the capacity to learn, solve problems, and process new information
- Crystallized intelligence is the stored, accumulation of knowledge over time
Fluid intelligence peaks in our 20's and 30's. Crystallized intelligence (wisdom) begins to form in our late 30’s and 40's. We must recognize that finding work that harnesses this crystallized intelligence will lead to our work happiness in the future.
While it may seem obvious to some, I was lucky that switching to All the Hacks full-time seems to be mirroring my desire for leveraging crystallized knowledge, which makes me even more confident in the decision to leave my day-job.
Arthur also shared…
“If you want to be among the happiest people, they all do these things every day.
They practice their faith or life philosophy. You don't have to be religious, you just have something bigger than you that zooms you out on your own life. Life philosophy or faith or spiritual practice gives you that uniquely. So it's meditation or prayer or studying the Stoics, whatever it happens to be, you got to do your thing and you gotta do it seriously.
Second is family, the ties that bind and don't break. It's important that you do not choose them, but that you have them for your happiness. And God knows in many cases we wouldn't choose them.
The third is friendship. We have a major loneliness crisis in the United States. The average number of close friends that somebody 30 years old has been cut in half in the past 20 years. About half of people under 30 say that no one knows them well. It's horrible for every aspect of happiness. And part of the reason for that is that everybody knows how to make deal friends, but we know less and less about how to make real friends.
And the last is work. And work doesn't mean working hard all night long. It doesn't mean making tons of money. It doesn't mean having prestige. It means exactly two things: (1) earning your success, meaning your skills meet your passions, and (2) serving other people – the people who need you. If you earn your success and you're serving other people, I don't care if you're an electrician or a librarian or a podcast host or a Harvard professor, you will be happy from your work. And if you don't have those things, you won't be happy with your work.
Faith, family, friends, and work are the big four.”
The episode is chalked full of great advice and tactics to be happier in 2023, and I will definitely be putting a lot of it into action myself next year. If you want to join me, listen to the full episode or check out Arthur’s book on happiness.
🔟 Top 10 Hacks from 2022
- Book a hotel directly and email them to tell them you're excited to stay. I've heard from 100’s of listeners about using this hack to get upgrades, bottles of wine, free food, vouchers for drinks at the bar, free parking, and most ridiculously, pillows embroidered with your initials on them. Big thanks to Leigh Rowan (🎧 Ep1) and Julia Menez (🎧 Ep55) for sharing it.
- Find free unclaimed money you're owed on your state's unclaimed money site. I think the biggest winner was a listener who found over $1,000, but I've had at least a dozen people find over $100 and even more that found $25-50. You can find your state’s site here.
- Use Google Image Search to find vacation rentals for a lower price. For this hack, take the main photo from VRBO or Airbnb and put it in Google Image Search to find other sites that rent the same property for less. This also came from my first conversation with Leigh Rowan (🎧 Ep1) which is still the all-time most popular episode and worth a listen if you like travel hacks.
- Use Autoslash to save hundreds on rental cars. I interviewed Jonathan Weinberg (🎧 Ep66) for a Masterclass on all things rental cars. Before you book your next rental car or even if you already have your reservation made, check out the episode, or at a minimum check out Autoslash to save on your rental. Note: this may read like an ad, but it’s not, I just really like Autoslash.
- Permit yourself to have 'it' in five minutes. Nir Eyal (🎧 Ep25) taught me how to be indistractible. My favorite lesson works wonders with the delicious things Amy loves to bake. When I feel a craving for something unhealthy, I just give myself permission to have it in five minutes. When the timer is up, I often have moved on to something else and have lost my craving (or at least eaten one or two fewer cookies than I wanted).
- Tape your mouth shut at night for better breathing. I thought it was a little crazy, but thanks to Liz Moody (🎧 Ep52), I'm sold now. The team at Hostage Tape sent me their mouth tape earlier this year and I've been using it almost every night.
- Take cold showers. Also from Liz Moody (🎧 Ep52) and I did it for 30 days straight after our conversation. When you start your day with a cold shower, everything else is manageable. I’m actually hoping to upgrade to a cold plunge this year, but until then it’s cold showers.
- Never pay the first healthcare bill. I learned about the inaccuracies of medical bills and deceptive tactics of the healthcare industry from Marshall Allen (🎧 Ep34) and his amazing book. Armed with the knowledge, I pushed back and saved a ton when I fractured my foot and got shingles last year.
- Build a memory palace to memorize anything. I spoke with, two-time world memory champion, Johannes Mallow (🎧 Ep30) about the tactics he uses to memorize everything from lists to names and numbers. In fact, I still remember the list we came up with in that episode over a year ago.
- Get rid of dinner parties and host cocktail parties instead. They’re so much more efficient and when you don't need food, you can put a two-hour hard stop on the event. They also let you spend more time with more people and are just more fun in general. Thank you, Nick Gray (🎧 Ep68) and your awesome book. While my all the hacks event in San Francisco probably bent the rules for an easy cocktail party, it was a blast and I look forward to doing more events and cocktail parties in 2023.
If you want more hacks, go back and pick from any of almost 100 episodes of the podcast or go back and read any of my past newsletters.
💳 Top Credit Cards for 2022
My spending summary for non-business expenses was dominated by four cards.
- The first is my Amex Gold card (4x Dining/Groceries), because food was a big part of our spending the past year. And I was pretty efficient with this card, earning 98% of the points on that card this year in the 4x category.
- The second is my Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Travel/Dining), which I used mostly for flights/hotels and dining when I forget my Amex Gold (or in the rare case Amex wasn’t). I was slightly less efficient with the CSR, earning only 92% of the points in the 3x bonus categories.
- The third is Amy’s Chase Amazon Prime Visa, which we use for Amazon and Amazon Fresh. I can tell you that the 5% back makes it worth it and because we only use it for Amazon we hit 100% of the spend getting 5% back. And while I don’t typically like cash back over points, I'll take 5% cashback when the alternative is only 2x points.
- The fourth is my Capital One VentureX card, which is my daily card for everything not earning a bonus above because it earns 2x points on everything. Also between the $300 annual travel credit and 10,000 point annual bonus, the $395 annual fee will pay for itself.
In terms of business expenses, I’ve put almost everything on my Ink Business Preferred (Travel) and the Spark Cash Plus (2x on everything if you have a Venture card).
If you're interested in any of those cards or any other cards, please sign up at allthehacks.com/cards. I’d be super grateful because it will help support the show.
💭 Parting Thoughts
Thank you so much for reading! I can't believe how far All the Hacks has come this year, and even more, it's now my full-time job. Thank you so much for listening and supporting me each week, it's such an honor and privilege. My best wishes for a wonderful end to 2022 and the anticipation of all that lies ahead for 2023. Happy new year to you and your families!