Can Money Buy Happiness?

Greetings all, 

Thank you for joining us for another issue of the Bona Fide Monthly Newsletter. For this month, we’d like to wade into an age-old question, ‘Can Money Buy Happiness?’. At Bona Fide, we enjoy digging into the numbers and ensuring our clients use their financial resources as best they can to achieve their goals, but we also believe it is important to know why we are working to earn all this money. Will working more and earning more make us happier? Is it better to earn more or to work less while being more efficient with our resources? How much is ‘enough’? These are important questions and we hope the links below will help you think a little more about what makes you happy in your own lives. 

Read – 
Most people are familiar with the figure of $75,000 being the number often quoted as providing happiness. Turns out, it’s a little more nuanced than that. According to a Purdue study from 2018, $60,000 to $75,000 provides emotional happiness, and levels around $95,000 provide the opportunity for life evaluation. From Purdue “Emotional well-being, or feelings, is about one’s day-to-day emotions, such as feeling happy, excited, or sad and angry. Life evaluation, really life satisfaction, is an overall assessment of how one is doing and is likely more influenced by higher goals and comparisons to others.” Keep in mind that these are figures for an individual and the numbers would necessarily increase for families. Also creating a disparity in the numbers is the location in the country or world you live in. Spoiler alert…. “The study also found once the threshold was reached, further increases in income tended to be associated with reduced life satisfaction and a lower level of well-being.”

Listen – 
In doing research for this newsletter, we came across a great podcast called, Your Life, Simplified. Conveniently enough, they had an episode called, Can Money Buy Happiness? This is a good listen if you’re interested in another perspective, this time from Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. We like this episode because it focuses on how to achieve “happier spending” and get the biggest happiness quotient out of each dollar that you spend. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when you are considering a purchase. Will this thing make me happier? If so, for how long and why? If you wind up deciding you have enough and it’s time to give back a little, you can also check out the following episode about community involvement and giving back

Watch – 
Still not convinced? Well, here is the video that started us down this rabbit hole. Titled, The Price of Happiness, author Benjamin Wallace sampled the world’s most expensive products, including a bottle of 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, 8 ounces of Kobe beef, and the fabled (notorious) Kopi Luwak coffee. If you’d like to read about those and other experiences Ben had, you can check out this GQ article. Both the article and the video are quite entertaining, so we highly recommend them. If money were no object, what is one thing or experience you would like to spend a large sum of money on?

That’s it for this month. We hope the above links gave you something to think about and reach out if you have any questions or comments. Also, if you haven’t, take a listen to our podcast, The FI Entrepreneur. We are closing in on a dozen episodes and think we are getting better with every show. What do you think?

Wishing you happiness, regardless of how much money you make, 

The Bona Fide Family


Greetings all,

We knew we wanted the focus of the October newsletter to be on entrepreneurship, but to be honest, we didn’t really know what direction to go with it. It’s something we discuss with a number of clients individually, but it isn’t something we’ve covered broadly with all of the families we serve. As is often the case when we are feeling a little stuck, it was Google to the rescue. A couple of searches in Google Trends showed that some of the most connected terms to entrepreneurship were centered around ‘challenges’, ‘classes’, and surprisingly (happily so) ‘teenagers’. As entrepreneurs ourselves through several businesses in our lives, this is a topic near and dear to us that we probably should have gotten into much sooner. So, if you’ve ever considered striking out on your own, let’s go!  

Considering this newsletter aims to be educational in its nature, it makes sense that the first links cover the question of, ‘Can you teach entrepreneurship?’. The resounding answer from Entrepreneur Magazine and others is, ‘Yes!’. This article also outlines a framework for starting to think about your own entrepreneurial inclinations. Better yet, education doesn’t have to cost a fortune or happen in an MBA course. Estonia happens to be one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and they are growing the sector through a combination of government initiatives aimed mostly at younger people and networking. With sites like Teaching Entrepreneurship and increases in classes at college campuses around the country, there are more opportunities than ever to learn about trying your hand at something new (something the pandemic has made much more attractive for a large number of people). There are those that argue the best education in entrepreneurship happens with feet on the ground, but we advise caution before you decide to jump all in on something without first doing your homework.

If you do a search for podcasts based around entrepreneurship, you’ll find more than you know what to do with. Sometimes sifting through all the noise is as easy as going with the biggest name in the bunch. One of our favorite picks comes again from The name of the podcast is Problem Solvers, and forgive the redundancy, but it’s a well-produced and interesting podcast that focuses on real-life examples of people working through problems in their businesses. If you need a hit of inspiration, this is for you. With a history of only a couple of months, The Business Chop, is a new podcast that focuses on “everything from marketing, management, employees, outsourcing, technology, pricing and more”. The episodes we’ve listened to have been interesting and we are excited to see how it grows. This one may be best listened to with headphones. 

When you’re ready to kick back and head down a YouTube rabbit hole, we’ve got a couple of links for you. The first one is a collection of 50 entrepreneurs giving advice. Some of the biggest names in business are artfully woven together into a collection of nearly 20 minutes of fantastic advice for entrepreneurs. The advice here works no matter what the size of the business or ambition and is well worth a watch. Our second video is a TED Talk from Bill Roche who has worked in classrooms for over 10 years in his PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs program developing an entrepreneurial mindset in young people. Age is only a number and getting your mindset right before starting on any new venture is one of the most important things you can do. The more time you spend sharpening the ax, the faster the tree comes down. 

We would be remiss if we didn’t add here that we’ve started a podcast in this vein! Check out The FI Entrepreneur: Financial Planning for the Risk Taker wherever you listen. We’re dropping our trailer and episode 1 on Tuesday, October 5!

That’s it for October! We hope there are some valuable links here for you. Putting these together was a lot of fun. Please respond with a comment and let us know what you think! Feel free to share with friends and family and be well until next time. 

Sincerely yours,
The Bona Fide Family

Financial Freedom (Financial Independence)

Greetings! We hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the fullness of summer! One of our favorite events of this season is the Fourth of July – aka Independence Day. From that cue, we would like to talk about Financial Freedom, or Financial Independence (FI). More commonly known by the acronym FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early), the FI movement has grown like wildfire over the past decade. Many people realize they really may not totally retire early (or ever!), so the focus of the movement is now more on the freedom or independence to perform work that you love or to not work at all.  The FI movement takes on a huge variety of forms, so there is sure to be something out there for you. 

  • Listen: This is kind of a two-for-one deal. It is an episode from a podcast called Afford Anything where the host, Paula Pant, interviews Joshua Sheets of Radical Personal Finance on his Financial Independence in Seven Stages. This is one of the first resources we dug into as we learned about the Financial Independence movement. It provides us and our clients a useful framework and vocabulary for discussing where they are at in their journey towards Financial Independence. If anything, take a quick look at the list of stages and see where you fit in.
  • Watch: Many people work their whole lives in the hopes of one day retiring and enjoying their ‘time’. The problem is that by the time they retire, they are often too old or infirm to really enjoy the time they have left. In this TED talk, Lacey Filipich shares her moving personal journey towards FI. If you’ve ever wondered if the traditional 9 to 5 is for you, or if the idea of a ‘mini-retirement’ sounds good, then this is a great watch. Lacey lays out the philosophy behind FI and her story is an important example of why taking some time for ourselves is probably the best thing we can do. If you are ready to trade the stuff you pay for, for assets that pay you, then take the time to watch this.  
  • Read: Sounds easy, right? Save a bunch, invest, then let the market and compounding interest do the rest for you. Well, the pandemic and recession have poked a couple of holes in the FIRE movement’s sails. Namely, if you quit your job in your 40s with a plan to live off the income from your investments and real estate holdings, what do you do if the market crashes? This NY Times article takes a look at some examples of people who had started their early retirement and how they have handled it so far. 

We hope you enjoy the links and your Fourth of July!. As always, feel free to share this newsletter with your friends and family and reach out if you have any questions. Is there a topic you would like us to delve into in a future newsletter? Please let us know and we will be happy to consider including it.

Make it an amazing month!
The Bona Fide Family


F.I.R.E. is an acronym. It stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. There’s a growing movement of people who are practicing FIRE principles and retiring decades earlier than expected as a result. Smart, often middle-income earners are using a simple formula of high savings rates (50-70% of their incomes) + frugal living (minimalism) + low-cost stock index fund investing (Warren Buffett’s standard investment advice) in order to reach financial independence within short–usually around 10-year periods–of time. For obvious reasons, FIRE is sometimes referred to as “the ultimate life hack.” (this definition taken from Playing With Fire). Look onward for these hot resources below!

  • Read: Vicki Robin wrote Your Money or Your Life in 1992, on the topic of personal finance. In this interview with MarketWatch, she expands her definition of financial independence to financial interdependence. Read more here in How Much is Enough?
  • Listen: Early retirement has become a popular dream, especially in the FIRE community, but many are spending too much to make it a reality. In this podcast episode, David Stein explores why the tendency to spend too much is such a large part of our culture. Listen the whole way through to learn about practical ways you can filter your spending for greater savings and earlier retirement.
  • Watch: There is a documentary on this entire FIRE movement that will be released soon. Watch the trailer here and sign up to be notified when it’s available to view full-form!

Just a reminder: we have an entire page dedicated to FIRE, other financial topics, as well as all of our archived newsletters on our Resources page.

If you find the information provided valuable, please pass this email along to your family and friends! Better yet, recommend them to subscribe to this monthly newsletter by signing up on our website!

You can click on the links below to access this month’s resources. Thanks for reading, listening, and watching!

Resources for Comprehensive Financial Planning

Bona Fide Finance has exciting news to share this month! We now have a resource page available to use as a reference as needed. It’s creatively called the Resources page (original, I know!); we have numerous links to all the major subjects of personal finance. Within each subcategory you will find a number of links to other blogs, articles, websites, books, interviews, etc., all with the aim to help you be as informed as possible regarding these topics. Take a gander when you have a moment; we hope you are able to put it to good use. Enjoy!

  • Investments: Mutual funds, asset allocation, fixed income instruments, annuities, socially responsible investing, trivia
  • Taxes: Payroll tools, online tax preparation, 1031 exchanges, state tax rates
  • Budgeting: Software, debt management, managing money, saving and spending, credit cards, financial spreadsheets
  • Student Loans
  • Behavioral Finance
  • Insurance: Life, disability, health, auto, long term care, home, umbrella liability, trip, pet
  • Estate Planning: Trusts, executor, legal documents, ethical will, digital lockbox
  • Home Ownership: Mortgages, insurance, determining your home’s basis, reverse mortgages, homestead exemption
  • Car Buying
  • Retirement: Early retirement, retirement accounts and contributions, retirement calculators, social security
  • Lifestyle Design
  • Financial Independence

If you find the information provided valuable, please pass this email along to your family and friends! Better yet, recommend them to subscribe to this monthly newsletter by signing up on our website!

Financial Independence and Early Retirement

This month, I’d like to emphasize the processes one would go through if he or she wants to retire early (and by early I don’t just mean at age 62.5!). Enjoy the following pieces on this topic:

  • ReadEarly Retirement Extreme is, well, an extreme look at retiring early. Jacob Lund Fisker wrote a book of the same title and has a plethora of information on his website, including this article on Can I Retire Young? In sum: the main question you should ask yourself is thus not whether you have enough money, but rather whether you can envision yourself living an unconventional life outside the boxes that most others live in. Can you be happy without doing what everybody else is doing?
  • ListenThe Shocking Truth About Life After Financial Independence is a podcast interview between Financial Mentor Todd Tresidder and Tess Vigeland, former host of NPR’s Marketplace Money. They discuss what stands on the other side of your career and how to embrace the risk and uncertainty, living life as an adventure. 
  • Watch: This 26-minute video of Peter Adeney (from Mr. Money Mustache, who retired at the age of 30) highlights 3 facts about money that helps the viewer understand what best to do with it to be able to retire early.

If you find the information provided valuable, please pass this email along to your family and friends! Better yet, recommend them to subscribe to this monthly newsletter by signing up on our website!

You can click on the links below to access this month’s resources. Thanks for reading, listening, and watching!

Lifestyle Design & Financial Planning

This month, I’d like to highlight the theme of lifestyle design, a concept that weighs heavily on ordering your financial situation accordingly:

  • Read: This article from Seeking Alpha focuses on the work of Tim Ferriss, author of such books as “The Four Hour Work Week” and “Tools of Titans”. Ferriss encourages folks to move from an annual thinking and total costs to monthly cash-flow. What is your ideal lifestyle in exact detail, and how much does it cost per month?
  • Listen: Joshua Sheats interviewed Jake Desyllas, author of “Job Free” in this podcast, which focuses on distilling all the plans and strategies you can use to design your ideal financial freedom plan into a clear, simple framework.
  • Watch: A double-dip on Tim Ferriss this month: check out this 30 minute interview between Mark Frauenfelder of the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire and Tim on his own experiments in lifestyle design, including dancing, learning languages, working out, and stoicism.

If you find the information provided valuable, please pass this email along to your family and friends! Better yet, recommend them to subscribe to this monthly newsletter by signing up on our website!

You can click on the links below to access this month’s resources. Thanks for reading, listening, and watching!