Personal Finance as Simple, Digestible and Executable Concepts


Meb Faber drew a lot of attention when he posted this report that included an "Investment Pyramid" along the lines of a food pyramid. Douglas Boneparth modified the pyramid and shared it on Twitter as follows;

I like this modified version slightly more but it doesn't really matter, the bigger point is about distilling various aspects of life into very simple and digestible concepts. When things can be simplified, the chances for success increase dramatically. I'm fond of citing Nassim Taleb as saying we learned everything we need to about finance from our grandmothers; live below your means and don't go into debt. Arguably, there is a little more to it but those are great rules of thumb (heuristics) to start with. The pyramids fill in some of the missing components.

Personal finances can be that simple; live below your means, save as much as you can, have a plan or goal for the future, "address your investments" can be as simple as two or three funds all of which makes "live your life/get back to work" much easier to do. Finances are of course not the only part of life, but they are a major part of life and when you can distill it into simple, digestible and executable concepts then every other aspect of your life becomes a little easier.

Financial matters unfortunately do become more complicated and at some point you potentially hurt yourself if you don't make the effort to learn more or hire someone to tell you what to do. When to take Social Security is complicated, figuring out what order of accounts to draw from in retirement is complicated, estate issues can be complicated. Repeating for emphasis; there are a lot of things in this paragraph that are not simple and handling them incorrectly/inefficiently can be very expensive.

Knowing the difference between what can be simple and what cannot as well as when life transitions to being more complicated simply requires awareness. All of this is behavioral which means you can have a big role in determining your outcome.