How to Start Investing

You’ve got some cash in a savings account. The stock market is confusing and/or scary. How do you start? What’s the best way to “put your money in” without needing to learn all the jargon and stuff? Here’s my recipe.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. I’m just telling you what’s worked best for me.

1) Open a Brokerage account with Fidelity or Schwab.

Either one is fine. Flip a coin if you have to.

2) Transfer your money in.

Best to setup the transfer from your existing bank, and do an “ACH” transfer. The first time will take a while, but then you’ll have a connection from Checking/Savings -> Brokerage. That’ll make it easier when you’ve got a bit more cash saved up that you want to send over.

ACH transfers usually take 3-5 days. Your bank may offer you a faster transfer for a fee, but ignore it. Keep the money.

3) Buy these: QQQ, SPY, VTI, MIPTX

Let’s say you’ve got $10,000 to put in, to make the math easy.

  • Buy $2000 of QQQ
  • Buy $2000 of SPY
  • Buy $2000 of VTI
  • Buy $2000 of MIPTX

Those first 4? You don’t touch those EVER except to buy more. Those are the absolute core of your “nest egg”.
Buy ’em and sit on ’em.
Set it and forget it.
No touchy!

4) The last 20% is Play money.

The last 2k is to do whatever else you want to do. GameStop, Crypto, whatever. You can buy & sell stuff at leisure.

I personally keep my play money in a completely separate account, specifically so it’s easy to stop myself from dipping into the nest egg and gambling it away.

5) You’re done!

It really can be that simple. Only do shenanigans with the play money. The rest of it, set it and forget it.

User Manuals for People

Humans are messy systems. We don’t work the same way every time. We have plenty of bugs. And we certainly don’t come with easy to read instruction manuals. Unless we write them ourselves.

The concept of “user manuals for people” has been around for over a decade. Originating in executive leadership circles, it has gained traction over the past few years at all levels of organizations. The topic has been covered by Bloomberg / Business Week (2008), the New York Times (2014), BBC Capital (2017), Quartz (2017), and more.

The idea is to provide people who work with (or for) you a guide. An on-boarding document of sorts. A shortcut to learning your quirks and getting down to the business of working with you effectively. Continue reading


The greatest date format. I use it. Here’s why you should too.

  1. People from every country can easily understand it.
    3/6/2018 is March in the U.S. but June in Europe. Why are you making things confusing when you could make them simple?
  2. If you add it to the beginning of file names, they sort themselves!
    Makes files easier to find. Plus the dates don’t get rewritten when you email the file to someone else.
  3. It’s been the ISO standard since 1976.
    Originally introduced in ISO 2014 (1976) which was then superseded by ISO 8601 (1988) which unified and replaced a collection of older ISO standards on date and time notation.
  4. It’s easy!
    You can write it on paper and type it on computers. There’s nothing fancy involved. So start using it today!