Some Big Ideas

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3 min read


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Sometimes I read books on random topics that have nothing to do with money and yet find myself drawing connections to personal finance. Here are some big ideas from non-financial books I have read that can positively impact your finances. 

Book: The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Big Idea: Spending time in nature has been scientifically proven to boost cognition, improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance your creative thinking. Even small doses of nature like house plants, 10-minute outdoor walks, and screensavers of forests have been shown to improve well-being.

Impact on Your Finances: Nature is the best form of free entertainment. Boost your savings rate and your overall happiness by going outside more.

Book: The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

Big Idea: Humans are social creatures. We need face-to-face contact to thrive. Research has shown that the happiest and healthiest people on the planet are those who have their own little “village” of reliable relationships.

Impact on Your Finances: Recognize that money can be a useful tool to free up the time needed to grow your “village” and cultivate strong social ties. It’s easier to prioritize relationships when all of your time isn’t sucked up by a traditional job.

Book: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Big Idea: By many objective standards, life is getting better as time goes on. Income, food availability, and life span are increasing across the globe. Poverty, disease, and crime rates are decreasing. Technology is making our lives better each decade and we can expect quality of life to continue to increase over time.

Impact on Your Finances: It’s reasonable to expect that global wealth will continue to increase over the upcoming decades. The easiest way for you to participate in this wealth-building is to invest in the stock market. Recognize that investing will come with volatility, but that you can expect technology and innovation to drive positive stock returns over time.

Book: Risk Savvy by Gerd Gigerenzer

Big Idea: In an age where data is abundant, we have a tendency to think that more information will lead to better decision-making. Surprisingly, this is rarely true. More often than not, we get better results by following simple rules.

Impact on Your Finances: This idea is particularly applicable to investing. You probably don’t need a complex investing strategy and you probably don’t need to pay high fees to a money manager. Keep things simple by investing in low-cost diversified index funds.

Book: How to Get What You Want by Wallace Wattles

Big Idea: Use the resources you currently have to do the best work you can possibly do. Once you master the work you have on your desk, you will be rewarded with the opportunity for slightly better work. This incremental progress is the only “secret” behind massive long-term success.

Impact on Your Finances: Whether you work at a 9-5 job, run your own business, or work on a side hustle, don’t stress about the future. Just do the work you currently have on your desk to the best of your ability. Each day you’ll get a little better. Eventually your skills will improve so much and the projects you do will be so significant that you’ll earn a higher income. 

Book: The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

Big Idea: When a kitten gets in trouble, its mother comes to the rescue. When a monkey gets in trouble, it must jump onto its mothers back to make a safe escape. One is rescued, the other rescues itself. In the industrial system that the U.S. was built on, workers were treated like kittens, relying on paychecks and pensions. In the connection economy that we are entering, individuals can earn their own income through connecting with others and providing unique goods and services.

Impact on Your Finances: Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to connect with others. This means it has never been easier start a side hustle or small business. Identify your own unique set of skills and knowledge, then use them to earn additional income. Learn to be a monkey in this new connection economy.

Book: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Big Idea: The more we’re around something, the less satisfaction we derive from it. 

Impact on Your Finances: This simple idea explains why large homes, new iPhones, and fast cars don’t permanently increase our happiness. Sure, they’re exhilarating at first. But the more we live in the home, use the iPhone, and drive that fast car, the more normal it becomes. It loses its appeal. Most excitement and joy we felt from the initial purchase slowly erodes over time. Recognizing this phenomenon can save us from buying bigger and newer things in an effort to make ourselves happier.


My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.

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4 Replies to “Some Big Ideas”

  1. This is a good one Zach! I’m always looking for book recommendations to add to the never-ending to-read queue.

    It’s crazy how much one ends up reading when you:
    * Find time to read every day (while commuting, waiting in line, during lunch, etc.)
    * Always have tons of books to get to

    Summary for myself:
    1. Go outside, enjoy nature, use a nature screensaver
    2. Build community ties
    3. Invest in stock market
    4. Use index funds
    5. Focus on the Now
    6. Internet + skills = $$
    7. More money != more happiness

  2. Wow; I feel like I just got the must-read trailer for a bunch of books! 🙂

    These are great tips; the first one hits me directly. I am recently LOVING nature. I like looking for parks and streams near my area to go and visit. It’s definitely nice just to walk and watch and listen to nature and force yourself to think about….nothing.

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