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I’m a big fan of frugality and being a minimal little wisp, but only insofar as it lets you load up on the rare things that fill life with joy. My position is that consumer capitalism is awesome—you just have to make it your bitch, instead of the other way around.
So here’s a list of the tools, practices, products, and services that I use and love. I’m always on the lookout for more of these, but the bar is set high. Note that it’s impossible to give universally good recommendations (caveats). But it should be a decent starting point.
Some of these companies offer commissions for referrals. I’ve added the relevant links where available, if you want to support the blog at no additional cost to you. I don’t think this has affected my judgment, but you should take it into account anyway.
Finally, I’ve noted some areas where I’d especially like to hear recommendations, and the comments will remain permanently open. Deep Dish readers introduced me to some of my favourite things, so please chime in and tell everyone what’s good.
Financial Services | Exercise and Fitness | Diet | Health and Supplements | Knowledge and Productivity | Mental Health | Blogging | Travel
Transferwise for money transfers
I use the free Borderless Account to pay/get paid in any of 40+ different currencies, as well as send money between countries (I’m in Mexico at the time of writing, paying my rent in pesos). This eliminates a bunch of fees, and means I get the actual mid-market exchange rate, instead of getting ripped off by brokers.
I’m also in the process of signing up for their debit card, which will give me free overseas ATM withdrawals up to a point, and pay with any of my currency balances.
Excel/Google Sheets for tracking expenses
I strongly recommend DIY tracking over screen-scraping apps, because doing it manually forces you to eyeball your spending habits. But it’s also a time suck: it’s more of a useful exercise to do for a month or two, before switching to an automated solution. You can get a free copy of my sheet by joining the mailing list (if you only want the sheet, just unsubscribe afterwards).
Excel/Google Sheets for net worth
Net worth is one of the few non-bullshit financial metrics, and lots of people seem to like my home-baked spreadsheet. Again, you can get a free copy by joining the mailing list.
Passive index funds for investing
I’ve explained why trying to beat the stock market by picking stocks is futile here, here, and here, culminating in this big-ass defence of the efficient-market hypothesis. The ‘conservative’ half of my portfolio is in boring index funds, and will be for the next several decades.
Vanguard for low-cost index funds
Vanguard is a non-profit with monstrous economies of scale, which means its fees start from 0.05 per cent (~20 times cheaper than your typical active fund). While it offers every flavour of diversified index fund and ETF under the sun, I like the mutual funds which let you set up a dripfeed to steadily invest into the entire S&P 500 (e.g. VFIAX) or the entire world (e.g. VTWAX).
If Vanguard doesn’t have a branch in your country, you’ll have to use an international broker or invest through a middleman. For New Zealanders: I use Superlife to channel my KiwiSaver funds into Vanguard.
Asymmetric edges for speculative investing
I’ve outlined the barbell strategy I use to get exposure to non-linear returns here, and my strategies for ‘black swan hunting’ are included in Part IV of my book. I recommend most people don’t do this, including myself, but it would be hypocritical not to at least mention it.
Bogleheads sheet for tracking portfolio returns
…one more spreadsheet, this time from the Jack Bogle acolytes. I use this to calculate my internal rate of return (IRR), comparable portfolio return, returns for the year to date, 3 years, 5 years, etc. If you’re an active investor, and you want to keep yourself honest about whether you’re actually beating the relevant benchmarks, it’s crucial to keep a proper record of performance.
Exercise and Fitness
Calisthenics + weights for resistance training
Resistance training is massively underrated compared to other types of exercise: it improves metabolic health, insulin sensitivity, strengthens bones, allows for a more flexible diet, and generally acts as a force multiplier in every domain (more).
I’ve been practicing calisthenics for several years, and love it. It costs next to nothing, gives a maximum of results with a minimum of time and effort, is challenging and rewarding, and about as minimalist as it gets.
The only shortcoming is that it’s not great for the lower body. There’s no substitute for heavy barbell squats and deadlifts, so I throw them in whenever I get the chance.
I’ve designed a simple calisthenics routine with progressions for beginners here. For weightlifting, I recommend a simple full-body program from the Stronger by Science team (these are my go-to guys for all evidence-based lifting and nutrition stuff).
Constant movement for ‘cardio’
I loathe cardio, and do as little as possible—just enough that my resting heart rate and VO2 max don’t stray too far from my target range. If you feel the same way, good news! By pairing short, sharp resistance training with tons of natural movement throughout the day—walking or cycling everywhere, taking the stairs, lots of stretching and fiddling, active hobbies—you can skip it altogether.
If this isn’t possible, the most effective types of deliberate cardio seem to be swimming and spinning (stationary bike). There’s no need for intense interval training, unless you enjoy it—I maintain a relatively sedate 130 bpm while I watch TV or listen to a podcast or whatever.
(Doing whatever you happen to enjoy is far and away the most important factor for compliance, and overrides all of the above.)
Gymnastic rings for calisthenics
I travel with rings and use them for most exercises. They’re more challenging than a pullup bar, but give a fuller range of motion, employ more stabilising muscles, and improve joint health.
As a general rule, you want wood over plastic, thick over thin (1.1″ are for competition or people with really small hands), and heavy-duty straps with plenty of redundancy, since you’re gonna be dangling from them head-first over the ground. The Titan rings I use aren’t in stock right now, but these ones look good.
Resistance band for stretching, rehab, high-rep work
Also part of my portable travel gym. You can use bands to warm up and stretch, anchor to something sturdy for pushdowns, curls, face pulls, rows, loop your foot in it for assisted exercises, etc.
I have a mid-strength green band. If you want to push the boat out, you could get two colours.
Fitbit Charge 3 for sleep and heart rate tracking
I am a gigantic, unrepentant Fitbit wanker. I love this thing so freakin’ much. It tracks my sleep, my heart rate, my VO2 max, my pace. It has GPS mapping. It’s waterproof. The battery lasts a full week.
I sleep with it, eat with it, uh..do other things with it. What gets measured gets managed, people!
16-8 fasts for caloric restriction
Every successful diet works insofar as it manages the balance of calories coming in vs calories going out. Everything else is personal preference, i.e. whatever makes it possible to keep it up for literally the rest of your life. This is why super restrictive diets like keto are bonkers for the vast majority of people.
Personally, my preferred method of caloric restriction is daily intermittent fasting which limits my food intake to an eight-hour window (there are more important reasons than body composition, as detailed in the Health section).
Plant-based diet for reducing suffering
There is no evidence that a vegetarian diet is superior to an omnivorous diet. But I strongly recommend a plant-based diet for ethical reasons, which I will lay out in an effortpost some time when I’m feeling too happy and want to make everyone mad at me.
SMASH fish and oysters for living forever
There is some evidence that mostly eating plants but occasionally eating certain types of seafood is better than any other diet, and supplementation doesn’t seem to give the same effects.
For this reason, I try to remember to occasionally eat the SMASH fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring. Raw, steamed or baked to preserve the good oil; never fried.
There’s a strong case that even vegans should eat oysters, since they don’t have a nervous system, farming them is good for the environment, and they’re highly nutritious.
80/20 diet for mental bandwidth
I am the kind of weirdo who is perfectly happy to eat variations on the same meals hundreds of times in a row. This minimises prep time, grocery shopping, and decision fatigue, while maximising taste and nutrition.
I love eating out and cooking, but I don’t want to do it all the time—following this template also gives me that much more appreciation for the 20 per cent of meals that are non-standard.
MacroFactor for diet tracking
I have a pretty good intuitive sense of how to eat, which comes from spending a lot of time tracking calories and nutrients in the past.
When I’m working towards a specific goal, I use MacroFactor: a humanistic ‘diet coach’ developed by my favourite researchers in the evidence-based fitness space. It’s highly accurate at triangulating your energy expenditure via your weight and calorie intake, easy to use, and has new features added all the time. Once it has micronutrient tracking my life will be complete; until then occasional sanity checks on Cronometer are the way to go.
Kirkland protein bars
OK, this one is probably just personal preference. But I frickin’ love the house-brand Costco protein bars, and they’re only a buck each when you buy the big packs.
Health and Supplements
Broad-spectrum sunscreen for anti-aging
Other than ‘don’t smoke’ and ‘have good genetics’, this is pretty much the whole secret to preventing wrinkles and ageing skin. Make sure it’s a broad-spectrum cream (protects against UVA and UVB rays), at least SPF 30, and water resistant. Wear it religiously every day, even when it’s cloudy or winter.
Women are reading this like ‘…duh?’ but no-one tells menfolk these things! I only found out a couple of years ago, by which time I’d already done a bunch of damage. Whoops.
(UPDATE: I’m currently using Skinnies, on the recommendation of Rowan and Sarah below, and loving it. Tash suggests Bio Aqua Watery Essence)
Sunlight for Vitamin D
Vitamin D is super important for hormonal health and fighting illness, and half the world is deficient. Natural sun exposure has been massively curtailed by a combination of indoor work, skin cancer fears, and people living at different latitudes than their ancestors did.
How to reconcile this with the advice about aging? I only sunblock my face, and try to wear as few clothes as social norms will allow. The best time to get the ‘D is when the sun is directly overhead: here’s a timing guide to make sure you’re getting enough without burning.
The paler you are, less time you need, and the darker, the more. If you’re dark-skinned and live in gloomy latitudes, you should definitely consider oral supplementation. (If you know a good brand, drop it in the comments.)
Retinoids for rejuvenating damaged skin
As far as I can tell, topical Vitamin A is the only anti-aging treatment that isn’t bullshit—it turns over damaged cells, boosts collagen production, and evens out pigmentation.
The prescription formulations (e.g. Retin-A) are more effective than retinol, but you have to start very slowly, use a low concentration, only apply at night, and expect things to get worse before they get better—results only arrive after 6 or 12 months. Seriously: be careful, I am not a doctor, etc.
Sleep mask for blocking light
I use a simple one like this, but I’m open to suggestions (it works fine to get me to sleep, then slips off during the night). A mask is a no-brainer for sleep hygiene, along with things like maintaining regular bedtimes, a cold room, no LED lights, filtering blue light before bed—use Night Shift on Mac and equivalent on Android—and earplugs if it’s noisy.
Fasting for longevity
I’ve fasted for 16 hours a day—pretty much ‘skipping breakfast’—for years. But more recently, I’ve also started doing periodic water fasts for five to seven days at a time. I’m in the process of writing a big guide as to why I think this is promising, but the short answer is that it might help to purge pre-cancerous cells and reset metabolic damage.
Sauna for cognitive and cardiovascular health
The research on sauna bathing is also super promising. There’s not enough room to list the benefits here, but the key takeaway is that it closely mimics exercise—it’s like doing cardio, except you’re sitting on your ass!
No surprise that I love saunas, and use them every opportunity I get. Rhonda Patrick, one of my favourite researchers, has a thorough review here which includes safety practices.
Modafinil for alertness
Almost everything in the category of ‘nootropics and supplements’ is suspect: it’s hard to find a magical smart pill, because Mother Nature rarely misses the trick. The most promising applications are a) plugging nutritional deficiencies, and b) stimulants.
Stimulants broadly let you move your attention span around—to ‘choose’ when to be tired—but are still probably zero-sum, i.e. there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
My favourite stimulant is caffeine; my second favourite is modafinil. Here’s gwern: “few stimulants come close to modafinil’s overall package of being a long-lasting, safe, effective, non-mood-altering, quasi-legal stimulant.”
I take 50-100mg when I’ve slept badly and need to function at a high level. Modafinil is a lifesaver after a big night, but I don’t think it improves my performance, so much as brings me back to baseline (200mg feels ‘speedy’ and gives me the bad kind of tunnel vision).
Note that it’s a controlled substance in e.g. the UK, US and New Zealand: I’m lucky enough to spend most of my time in countries with less infantilising governments.
Melatonin for sleep quality and onset
Melatonin locks in a regular circadian rhythm and improves the quality of sleep. gwern estimates that it saves about an hour, e.g. he sleeps 7 hours but wakes up as refreshed as if he got 8. This seems about right to me.
The dosage and timing requires some trial and error. Scott Alexander has a whole post on this, in which he points out the optimal dose is 0.3mg, which is waaay smaller than the usual tablets. I buy 1mg ones and cut them up.
Again, incredibly, this is prescription-only in some places, including the UK and NZ.
Creatine for cognition and physical endurance
This is like the one sports supplement that has been tested up the wazoo, unambiguously works (apart from genetic non-responders), and is cheap as chips. It helps me squeeze out a few more reps on each set, but the main reason I take it is that it also has some cognitive benefits, and vegetarians are more likely to be deficient.
Boring old monohydrate is fine, and you don’t need to cycle on and off. Rhonda Patrick has a great review of the research, as do Eric Trexler/Greg Nuckols.
Knowledge and Productivity
I use a Macbook Pro, a Nexstand, magic keyboard, and a Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse. Boring but it works.
I’d rather join the Amish than go back to the bloated mess that is Windows. Chromebooks are still my favourite on a bang-for-buck basis, but I’m slowly coming round to macOS.
??? for smartphone
My only requirements are: 1) good camera, 2) long-ass battery, 3) Android OS, 4) as little bloatware as possible. I will update this once I’ve done the research and picked a successor, but in the meantime, please hit me with your suggestions. Pixel 3A?
(UPDATE: I went with the relatively cheap/small iPhone SE, mostly for interoperability reasons. This is how they get you.)
Roam Research for deconstruction and synthesis
The mothership. My beating heart. Massive conflict of interest: I’m friends with the founders, helped out in various small ways, and am both metaphorically and literally heavily invested in the project.
I use Roam for all my research and writing projects—note-taking, Zettelkasten, task management—as well as all my personal stuff—lists, journaling, workouts, experimentation, groceries. I pretty much live inside my Roam database at this point.
Roam is priced on the premium end. If you’re a writer, student, researcher, or creative, you obviously shouldn’t pinch pennies on having the right tools. For most people, a kludge of free services is probably fine. I muddled through with Evernote and Google Docs previously, but this is just a whole different beast (more thoughts on competitors at the end of the Zettelkasten guide).
Zettelkasten for ideas sex
Several years ago, I noticed that after reading a fantastic book or blog post, I’d struggle to remember anything about it. Maybe I’d recall the vague outline, or a snippet. But mostly, all those ideas slipped out of my colander-brain.
So I started a methodical system of note-taking—a practice called Zettelkasten—which profoundly changed my life as a reader and as a writer. I’m now coming up on 10,000 notes and ideas going back six years, all of which are interconnected. This is my single most treasured possession, and my secret sauce as a writer, to the extent that I have any.
Zettelkasten + Roam is a match made in heaven, and I’ve got an effortpost
coming soon (update: here it is).
Freedom.to for blocking distractions
I have all the backbone of a jellyfish, and blocking distracting apps and websites is the only way I ever get anything done/get any sleep.
I tried so many tools of this nature—StayFocusd, Leechblock, etc—but I always found a way to get around them. Unlike the others, Freedom syncs across all platforms and devices, and makes it impossible for me to self-sabotage. Thinking about the ROI, this has got to be the best $20 I’ve ever spent.
Kindle Paperwhite for reading
Yeah, it’s never as good as the dead-tree version. But if I hadn’t caved and finally got a Kindle, I would read a whole lot less. Now I can’t imagine life without it.
It’s much easier to slip in your pocket or bag than a hefty hardback. You can read in the dark, on a plane, on a train. You can hold a George R.R Martin tome over your face without the risk of caving in your skull.
You can also buy any book from Amazon with a single click, and be thumbing through it one minute later. This kind of convenience is dangerous, but I never feel the slightest pang of guilt at spending money on books.
(I’m currently working on a mega-reading list, sorted by category. In the meantime, here are my ‘quake’ books, and the best books I read in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.)
Getting Things Done for task management
David Allen’s classic productivity system is all about closing open loops in the brain. This could just as well be listed under the ‘mental health’ section: without a triage system, I quickly get overwhelmed, endlessly ruminate on the same things, and generally run around like a headless chicken.
Some people will find it stifling, or too time-consuming to be worthwhile. Personally, I can’t get enough of it. Allen’s book is a bit anachronistic (written decades ago, tokenly updated for the digital age). I wrote a guide to using Roam for GTD, which is my condensed take on how the system works.
Anki for remembering stuff
Did you know there’s an optimal algorithm for learning and revising new things? It’s called ‘spaced repetition’, and it’s a small crime that it’s not used in every classroom.
Anki is my favourite spaced repetition software. It’s free, it has an Android app, and a bunch of public decks for download. I have ~8000 flashcards which I’ve mostly used for language learning, but am planning to expand into a bunch of other areas. Will write a post on this at some point; in the meantime, here’s Michael Nielsen.
(Besides the obvious stuff like exercise, diet, sleep, and social medicine)
Roam for gratitude journaling
It might sound cheesy, but practicing gratitude is one of the few positive psychology interventions that really works. I do this by reflecting on a few things I’m grateful for at the end of each day.
Any medium is fine. The cool thing about using Roam in particular is that it automatically builds a repository of warm fuzzies—I can filter by person, topic, timeframe, or any other factor, and see who or what is improving my life (example here).
Cognitive behavioral therapy for bad feels
I usually resolve stressful life events through freeform writing, which has its own well-studied benefits. But I sometimes also use CBT-style prompts to get the words flowing. Rob Wiblin shared some checklists that I find especially useful—both for overcoming career and life setbacks, and times when you feel someone has wronged you.
Sample item: “What would I say to someone else if this happened to them? Presumably not “I suggest you… feel bad 👌”.
Stoicism for equanimity
The cool thing about Stoicism is that it lets dudes proudly talk about doing therapy, except they get to call it ‘philosophy’ and change their profile pictures to busts of Roman statesmen, etc.
I don’t do any kind of explicit practice, but I’ve read the Stoic texts enough that the main principles (which were the precursor to CBT) now often automatically come to mind when I’m getting mad.
Siteground for web hosting
These guys are consistently voted the best hosting service. They have lots of free services, like SSL certificates and automatic WordPress updates, and have been endlessly helpful in dealing with my panicked/stupid questions when I periodically break the site.
The reason you see so many people recommend Bluehost is because they have the most lucrative affiliate program. If someone recommends you Bluehost, that’s a (weak) signal that they do not have your best interests in mind. I used to get a commission from Siteground, but not any more—I endorse them because I’m very happy with their service.
Mailerlite for email lists
Mailing software is really, really expensive, and comes with all sorts of crazy bells-and-whistles that I will never use. If you don’t anticipate getting more than 2000 subscribers, I recommend Mailchimp’s free plan. If you just want to mail stuff to people with relatively little fuss, Mailerlite is the ways to go. It’s simple, it’s (comparatively) cheap, and still offers some of the fancy functionality, like WordPress integrations and A/B testing.
WordPress for blogging
I only weakly recommend this since I don’t love the platform, but for the sake of completeness: if you go down this route, for the love of sweet baby Jesus sign up with WordPress.org, so you actually have control, flexibility, your own domain, etc. Don’t cheap out with WordPress.com.
The theme I use is called Moesia, although at this point it’s almost entirely obscured by a custom child theme built on top of it. My essential tools are Cloudflare’s CDN, and Siteground’s dedicated caching services.
Macpac for backpacks
I spent a couple years living out of the 22L Kahu day bag. That was fun. Now I use the Contrail 35L, which I had a small part in designing, and is the perfect size for carry-on-only travel.
Related: Here’s my minimalist packing list.
Icebreaker merino clothing
Merino wool is woven with some sort of black magic that makes it super lightweight, odor resistant, fast-drying, keeps you warm when you’re cold and vice versa.
It’s not cheap, but my merino socks, undies and shirts are still going strong after hundreds of wears. Icebreaker pioneered merino wool clothing, and is my personal favourite.
Carbon fiber money clip for cash and cards
All I carry these days is a credit card, an ID, and some cash—a carbon fiber clip is super light and cheap, and I sure don’t miss having a bulky wallet.
I haven’t used a loyalty card in five years so your mileage may vary, although this should be fine for traveling.
What do you use and love? If you have a conflict of interest please say so (and I’ll delete blatant spam) but other than, don’t hold back! I want to hear about any product, service, tool, or practice that is beautifully designed, highly effective, or otherwise brings you joy.
Well f*ck, I started using a mood tracker back when you posted this a couple months ago (though mine is on real live paper rather than a screen, just cause of preference), and looking at that I’m like…. shit, when did I get so unhappy?! So I’m working on that. I had a single contented day after many months of absolutely zero of those, which was pretty neat. Having a ‘mood’ for sick/tired also gives it the unexpected bonus of being useful for tracking flare-ups! I used to just have a vague sense of ‘oh I’m always sick’ but now I have a lovely colorful grid 😀
Damn. Well, even if the results are dispiriting, it’s always good to actually have a sense of what’s going on. I started for similar reasons, in that I only had the vaguest sense of how I felt over time. Wishing you many more contended days to come, and at the very least, a lovely colourful grid! There’s got to be a metaphor there somewhere.
Simplicity for Kiwisaver in NZ is fantastic. As a non-profit and only 0.31% fees they’re crushing the competition!
Yeah they’re awesome—I used to be a member, I only switched to Superlife because I wanted a purely aggressive (100% equities) fund.
Thanks for the recommendations!
* +1 for the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle has become a must-own for me: if mine broke, buying a new one ASAP (that same day) would become my top priority.
* For reading articles (long-form but not as long as a book), I find the iPad Mini an excellent form factor. Mileage for others might vary but I find iPads nicer to read on than all of the Android tablets I’ve tried – they scroll more smoothly (or at least in a way that pleases my personal aesthetic sensibilities). A secondhand iPad Mini 4 is pretty cheap.
A few items that give me disproportionate life satisfaction (but probably aren’t ideal for your nomad life):
* Samsung Frame TV. Yes, having a TV that displays art when it’s “off” seems like a gimmick but it’s way better than a big black empty screen just sitting there. When people pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for art on their walls, the extra cost fades into comparison.
* Fujitsu Scansnap – this baby makes scanning a breeze. So much nicer having digitised paperwork than having to keep unnecessary paper around the house.
* 4K monitor. More pixels = more cells in Excel, baby! In all seriousness, if you spend a lot of time in front a screen, having lots of screen real estate is awesome. In my own experience, having a 32″ 4K monitor has also been a game changer in terms of using Zoom etc. People’s faces are almost life size, and it makes the experience of chatting feel a lot more “real”.
* A good reputable password manager (eg LastPass, 1Password) is life-changing, not to mention an important part of having good digital hygiene.
* Pocket (or Instapaper)
* Readwise for linking Kindle notes to Evernote/to be reminded of highlighted passages via email
* TextExpander for automating text you regularly type out (including stuff that you might otherwise have to search-then-copy-and-paste, eg Zoom meeting room URLs)
* OneTab for not getting overwhelmed by open tabs
* Video Speed Controller extension for Chrome for speeding up (and slowing down) video content in 0.1 iterations. You’ll be surprised how many Youtube videos are better at 2x-3x speed.
Great list, thanks Sonnie! I’m using the Video Speed Controller on your recommendation – it’s been a gamechanger for YouTube tutorials, which I ignored previously because I found them annoyingly slow-paced. Still not ready to watch movies at 7x speed though 😉 And definitely gonna look into a 4k monitor when I eventually settle down.
Absolutely. I use LastPass too – recently did a big security audit of my entire digital life, so I’ll probably write up my findings some time. Getting hacked/locked out of an account seems like a big tail risk which it’s reasonably easy to protect against.
Hi Rich, Great to see the updates. I am also almost over windows though for work it is fine as they control the corporate version well but the home version has become quite unstable. I am booting with Linux on USB for fun and testing which is so far is stable. I have the same Logitech keyboard which I am using right now. The touchpad isn’t the best but is ok. I suggest rather than buying a keyboard and mouse just get a mouse as long as you have enough USB ports. Unless you of course really hate the keyboard. Bluetooth mice are fine but after my old fancy one broke I just replaced it with a wired one which is cheaper, lighter and less of a pain. I have the roost which is similar to your stand. As for the camera – I am no expert but more an amateur. Everyone has an opinion and it really comes down to your capabilities and aspirations. Most phone cameras even on mid-level phones now will take great pictures. Composition is the main thing and lighting. Small sensors are the limiting factor with software magic only able to get so far in dark conditions. Or if you want to process raw images rather than JPEG but the benefits are smaller when sensor size is small. For me the main factor is usability and how easy it is for me to access and use features like exposure or white balance quickly and easily without digging through menus. Transferwise is great except when sending to Japan as they validate not only the account but the name and if local they insist on Kanji. As for Mutual funds here in Australia they are not as popular as ETF. So what is available for mutual (Traditional) index funds is limited. The travel pack looks great. I have something that works for ok for me so will stick with that for now.
Hey Simon, thanks for the suggestions. I ended up going with a standalone (rechargeable) Logitech MX 2 mouse which supposedly lasts months on a single charge, works on every surface, including my glass desk top, and has both Bluetooth and dongle connectivity. I like it a lot so far! I don’t hate the keyboard—it’s a little cramped, and the touchpad is redundant now, so I guess I’ll replace it in time.
On phone cameras:
Yeah, exactly. That’s why I’m moving away from a dedicated camera—I want to remove as much friction as possible. Haven’t chosen a phone yet but will take this into consideration.
I use wirecutter.com for almost all of my consumer spending, I tend to check what their recommendations are. If I am going to buy something new I’ll check wirecutter. Even though I’ve probably bought far too much “New” stuff. Pre-owned is loads cheaper.
Not sure if these products are available for non US Citizens but will put them out anyways.
Charles Schwab Checking account, Worldwide ATM Fee Refunds, 0.45 % interest as well.
Goldman Sachs – Marcus Savings Account. Consistently one of the best long term savings accounts around on par with Ally bank etc. Vanguard for Investing. Lively is the best HSA Bank I can find if you’re opening up a health savings account. You can invest your entire HSA and they have ZERO fees which is very rare for an HSA
Also Mint is the best financial account tracker I’ve found. It’s free and ad supported. Great tracker of bills , long term spending, credit score. It’s got everything.
Nice one, thanks Jack. I looked into the Charles Schwab account but as far as I can remember, I wasn’t able to as a non-US citizen (if anyone is reading this and can confirm, let me know).
I didn’t realise Mint was free, that’s nice—again, seems like a good option for Americans.
I highly recommend yoga for working out. You can do it anywhere, you need very little space to do it, you can do it with other people or own your own, it can give you a cardio workout and/or a strength workout, and it can even give you a chillout session. There’s a reason it’s called ‘moving meditation’ – basically you get your meditation session and your physical session at the same time, which is max efficiency in my book. It works both upper and lower body. The only thing it really doesn’t do is any kind of pulling motion, so a pair of rings would fill that gap nicely.
Thanks Lisa. I’m keen to take some yoga classes, mostly for the flexibility side of things but I like the breathwork/meditation aspect too.
I’ve started ‘Bulletproof coffee’ (in my case, green tea with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and butter) and I’m finding it excellent so far. Dave Asprey has some interesting research on other nootropics, too.
For business travel where there’s suits or other fairly formal business wear involved but I only want to take carry-on, Red Oxx’s Air Boss is excellent. The Safari colourway is a great mix of distinctive but not in your face, as some of the Red Oxx colours can be.
I do like the Osprey Farpoint for informal/non-suit travel. There have been times I’ve needed to reach into my bag in public, and having the two compartments means I don’t show everyone my carefully packed underwear as I haul out my laptop or warm top or whatever.
For noise-cancelling headphones I found the Bose in-ear buds outstanding for noise blocking during travel, and for sound quality. The downside is they’re bloody expensive and they’re fragile. These are common complaints in the reviews, and in my experience they’re accurate. I spent the first two years wincing whenever I thought about how much I’d paid for them. Mine lasted 4 years, of which the first 6 months was heavy use, the next year medium use, and the remaining 2.5 years intermittent use. I think it’s only a broken wire from coiling the cord, and one of these days I’ll get around to taking them to an electrical repair shop. I tried to go back to ordinary headphones afterwards but I’m afraid I’ve been ruined for non-noise cancelling. If I can’t get mine repaired I’ll be buying another set.
+1 on the Farpoint—that was one of my top contenders, and I had another Osprey bag that I really liked.
Ahh interesting, this is exactly what’s preventing me from hitting the ‘buy’ button! I am convinced that Bose is the gold standard, but I’m super clumsy/forgetful and worried about crushing them. Thinking of getting over-ear cans instead in the hopes they’re more durable.
Let us know if you do and how they go.
Calm app for learning how to meditate and getting to sleep. Also great for children who can’t sleep.
Thanks Monica, looks good. Here’s the link.
I love YNAB – it is the only budget app that I have consistently used, and makes me honest with myself about my habits and choices. The flexibility to roll with the punches and see improvements keeps me optimistic. I love HNRY for managing my tax on all income (NZ) as a contractor and landlord. And I love Sharesies for easy investing and giving me index funds and ETFs that align with my values to easily dump my money into (and the fact HNRY lets me dump a % of every payment I receive automagically into my shares and super). Makes it way easier to make better choices because I set and forget!
Thanks Jasmin, I hadn’t heard of HNRY—it looks great, I’ve had such a headache in recent years even with my relatively uncomplicated tax affairs. Also a fan of Sharesies.
via HNRY I got a tax refund this year because they knew there was some special rebate I could claim that I never would have realised, so effectively paid back the cost for the year + some 🙂 That said, at 1% as a fee, I’m happy to pay for the simplicity and ease of not worrying about tax 🙂
Love the word and idea of Zettelkasten – Got to shout out to AkoMaps for this as a (currently) free tool. It’s in development so not perfect, but already better than it was.
For sleep and mental health I really rate 5-HTP – It’s a melatonin precursor and unregulated so you can buy it as a supplement. Studies seem inconclusive (last time I checked some 4? 5? years ago) but anecdotally I can say it was instrumental in taking me from being a wrecked stressed social anxious semi-paranoid insomniac to being a functional and ‘crazyinwaysthatdontmatter’ kind of human being.
Cheers Jed, I’ve been using 5-HTP for a couple other things, good to know it’s available in NZ even when melatonin isn’t. There’s so much individual variation in these kind of things that it definitely makes sense to play around, glad it’s working for you.
Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence for face sunscreen! It’s by the far the best I’ve found and used.
I’m a big OnePlus fan for battery, good camera and customizable software , though not sure if there latest models are up to scratch.
Thanks Tash! I’ve added a link to the sunscreen, and putting OnePlus on my list to investigate.
+1 for Skinnies sunscreen, especially the Sport version. It’s a Kiwi company, but I think they have it in the States and Europe now too.
It’s gel-based so doesn’t have that greasy/claggy feeling on the skin. Goes on clear, dries down nicely, and doesn’t stain or rub off on clothes.
Probably the best sunscreen I’ve ever tried– and I’ve tried a lot of them, being a super-pale person living in the Pacific.
I second this recommendation for Skinnies sungel – as a very pale Kiwi, this is the best sun protection I’ve ever used!
Thanks Rowan and Sarah—have added it to the list!
this thing on