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Carey Morewedge – Professor

Carey Morewedge is an associate professor of marketing in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. Dan is an engaging writer who explains in simple language many of the judgmental and decision biases that even the brightest of us are subject to all the time. The book describes many fun and engaging experiments that have shed light into the common mistakes we make when making everyday and important judgments and decisions.

Mindwise, by Nicholas Epley. We constantly engage in mind reading. We think about our thoughts, others’ thoughts, and what others think we are thinking. Nick does a great job explaining the research on what kinds of mind reading we do well, and where our glaring blind spots lie.

How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silva. Writing has become a critical part of most professions, and is often a difficult challenge. Paul Silva gives useful tips on how to overcome the writers block that professionals and students often face.

Good things to watch.

Daniel Kahneman’s 2002 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Maps of Bounded Rationality.”
Kahneman is one of the founders of the study of judgment and decision making. His paper with Amos Tversky in 1979, Prospect Theory, won him the Nobel Prize in Economics and served as the catalyst for what is now referred to as behavioral economics. In his Nobel acceptance speech, Kahneman summarizes his program of research on how we make judgments and decisions, whether mundane or important. The cliff notes version of this speech appears in the September, 2003 issue of American Psychologist, “Mapping Bounded Rationality.”

Louie (FX). Louis CK is one of the most astute modern observers of human behavior, and his show on FX is dark, honest, and deeply psychological. It deals with topics like death and social interaction on a level that is rarely scratched by network or cable television.

Planet Earth ( BBC).  An epic documentary television series that elucidates the natural world by touring 11 different habitats on Earth, from mountains to jungles to seas. The end of each episode explains the lengths that the crew went to in order to capture each shot, which are often even in themselves stunning.

Good things to use.

A passport. Few things teach one more about the world and oneself than traveling somewhere other than where you live. Relationship experts also council that marriages benefit considerably from sharing new experiences. Research also suggests that we take more pleasure in the long run from experiences than from material possessions, and travel is one of the greatest wellsprings of experience.

Mint.com. Although several famous models of neoclassical economics suggest that money is fungible and people should make rational decisions with regards to their earnings, spending, and investments, keeping track of your finances is challenging even for people who study financial decision making. Mint provides helpful tools to get a clear picture of your financial health, allowing for wiser decision making in the present and for the future.

A good mattress. Pricing a mattress is truly an impossible task, but finding a comfortable mattress is one of the best investments you will ever make. You will spend one third of every day on your mattress (more or less). Do you want to spend that time in comfort or in pain?

Connect with Carey on Twitter, @Morewedge.

Brandon – Mad FIentist

Brandon is the host of the Mad FIentist podcast and author at MadFIentist.com where he talks and writes about financial independence, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.   I’m going to have to repeat a book that was already recommended by one of your other guests, Jim Collins (he is the person who actually recommended the book to me).
I can honestly say this book has changed my mindset more than any other book ever has. Its main message is that you are inherently free to do whatever you like with your life. However, there are many “traps” that attempt to limit your freedom, like pressures from society, family expectations, etc. Ultimately though, you have the power to break free from those traps and live a life that truly makes you happy.
As someone who is following an unorthodox financial path, I’ve always written my own rules with regards to money but this book made me realize I could expand that thinking into all areas of my life.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I’m currently pursuing a graduate degree while working full time so I haven’t had much time for pleasure reading in the past few years but last month I went on vacation and got to read a fabulous book called Shantaram. The book is based on a true story about an ex-addict who escaped from prison in Australia and then fled to India. It was written by the escaped convict himself and follows his story as he lives in the slums of Bombay, joins the Indian mafia, spends time in prison, and eventually goes to war in Afghanistan. It is an incredible story that highlights the importance of relationships and the life-changing effects of immersing yourself in another culture.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  When looking at Amazon to find out how to spell the authors’ names, I noticed a quote by Mark Cuban that sells the book much better than I could: “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time. This is a must read for every entrepreneur.”

So save yourself $40K+, read Rework, start a business, and then go ask Mark Cuban for funding.

Good things to watch.

In Bruges. This dark comedy has become one of my favorite movies and since not many of my friends have seen it, I tend to show it to everyone that comes to visit me. It is quite violent at times and is definitely not for children but it has great acting, a beautiful setting (Bruges, Belgium), funny Irish humor, and excellent music to tie it all together.

Long Way Round. This documentary series follows Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as they travel from London to New York on their motorcycles. If this series doesn’t make you want to break away from your cubicle and go travel the world, I don’t know what would.

Watch your money.  You should try to keep track of everything you spend money on for a single month. You can sign up to mint.com to make this easier but even if it’s a bit of a pain, it’s only for 30 days.

At the end of the month, take a look at where your money went and ask yourself for every item on the list, “if giving this up meant I could quit my job tomorrow, would I give it up?” If you answer yes, seriously consider giving it up because it’s obviously not as important to you as your freedom is. Then, take the money that you were spending on all the things you decided to give up and invest it or use it to pay off debts every month instead.

It’s amazing how much money people spend on things that really aren’t important to them, while being stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy, so doing this exercise will allow you to eliminate those unnecessary expenses and will help you eventually buy your freedom.

Good things to use.

Wunderlist.  A great to-do list app that allows you to easily sync your to-do lists between all of your devices.

Spotify.  Spotify gives me the music collection I always dreamed of having as a kid, for free!

A Mac.  I hesitated to list this for fear of being thought of as a Mac fanboy.

I actually used to be anti-Mac. Why spend a lot of money to get a Mac when you could get a perfectly good PC for half the price?

When I started at my current job three years ago, however, they gave me a brand new Macbook Pro and I have to say, I’ll never go back. It actually makes me sad inside when I see other people using a Windows machine because I know how much better their lives could be if they made the switch.

Connect with the Mad FIentist, @madfientist.

Jonathan Ping – My Money Blog

Jonathan Ping is an engineer, personal finance geek, and aspiring early-retiree who writes at MyMoneyBlog.com about his journey towards financial freedom. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack – The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. A collection of essays and speeches by Munger as well as articles about him. I find Munger interesting as his idol is Benjamin Franklin (hence the book title), a man who first started a business and became financially independent, but then moved on to being a philanthropist, inventor, politician, and much more. The book explores his views not only about investing but about other important characteristics of living a good life.

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2013: The Travel Skills Handbook – Reading this book in college opened up the idea of independent travel to me. I find it amazing that today we can simply a buy a ticket and travel around the world with just a passport, ATM card, and whatever can fit inside a large backpack. No tour companies, no huge charter buses, no cruise ships, no large hotel chains. You can spend less and yet experience more.

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. I’ve read over 100 personal finance books, and this is one of the few that is truly different. Fisker poses a philosophical framework that questions many closely-held beliefs of the average middle-class North American. Big house? No, how about living in an RV. Car? No, bike and walk. I may not live like him, but I like how he pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Good things to watch.

Rounders. Essentially it’s a sports movie but about poker. By from my perspective, it was also about a person who’s passion wasn’t mainstream. While he tried to fake it as a lawyer instead, he eventually found his way back into it. I guess it spoke to me as an unhappy grad student.

Pardon the Interruption. I don’t watch much TV, although I would watch more live sports if I had the time. Instead, I watch PTI as it fits in all the current sports news plus snarky commentary into a concise 30-minute block (even less if you take out commercials). The podcast is also available for free via ESPN and on iTunes.

CNBC Originals. I usually make fun of CNBC for their constant stock market fortune-teller nonsense, but I do enjoy watching their documentaries into businesses and industries like airlines (American Airlines), cruises, retail (Costco, Wal-mart, Coca-cola), auto (GM), and other financial topics. Watch them rerun on CNBC or watch them on demand for free online via Hulu.

Good things to use.

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6 qt. 80% of the durability of Le Creuset, at 20% the price. Cast iron on the inside, enameled porcelain on the outside makes it easy to clean and impervious to rust. The ease of maintenance helps encourage me to cook for myself. Great for everything – searing, frying, slow-cooking, oven safe to 400 degrees. (Replace the knob with metal, and you’re good to 500 degrees.)

Mint.com. Track your spending automatically by syncing your bank and credit card accounts. You’ll have to spend a little energy upfront to get the categorization customized, but after a couple months it provides great inside into your spending patterns. Much easier than budgeting in my opinion.

Cutco Scissors. If you’re familiar with the Cutco brand, you know what I’m talking about. I use the same pair of scissors to cut meats, papers, plastic, ropes, wood, metals and just about anything else. The price is pretty high for a pair of scissors, but if you factor in the lifetime guarantee and their durability they’re terrific.

You can connect with Jonathan Ping on Twitter, @mymoneyblog.