TGIF: The Woody Rule

\"\"I have a theory that folks in North Texas are colder and more miserable in winter than just about anyone else.

I sense the furrowed brows, but hear me out. I’m not saying that North Texas has the worst winters – far from it. I’ve spent many a winter in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and I even suffered through two winters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I’ve got cold winter street cred.

How cold and miserable you are in winter is a function of 1) how cold it actually is, and 2) how well you prepare for said cold. And it’s on that latter measure that North Texans are comically ridiculous.

In Chicago, you dress for winter like your life depends on it, mainly because it does. There’s no, “Maybe I can make it to my car without a jacket.” You’ll literally freeze to death and be eaten by a Yeti before you’ve gone half a block.

In North Texas, though, it’s generally milder, and people do everything they can to avoid bringing a jacket. But since the weather changes every 10 minutes, and sometimes gets quite cold, people suffer mightily. Many a time, I’ve dressed for the 30’s in a winter coat, hat, and gloves only to see people shivering in t-shirts and shorts.

My time in the North certainly helps me dress like a sane person, but the foundation for my Boy-Scout-motto approach came from my father Woody.

He had a saying: “If you take it with you, you don’t have to use it. But if you don’t bring it, you can’t.” This vies for one of the most obvious statements ever, but for some reason, humans can’t seem to embrace it.

Facing uncertainty, people will become absolutely sure they won’t need something. They somehow assign a very high cost to an almost-free option.

I laughed when my own sons fought tooth and nail (just like little Paul back in the day) to avoid bringing a jacket “just in case”, so I busted out Woody’s Rule for them. They’re now fully on board, and my 6 y.o. is its strongest adherent. When I ask him if we should bring something – jacket, umbrella, water, tool, device, towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, whatever – he looks thoughtful and says with a smile, “What do you think Grandpa Woody would say?”

When we end up not using something, I ask them how much trouble it was to bring – “None!” (though mom does look like a coat rack sometimes…). They understand that being prepared for anything means you won’t use everything. But that’s OK.

So if it might be cold, bring a jacket. If you’re doing a repair, bring the whole toolbox. Throw anything you might need in your bag or car. You don’t have to use it, but if you leave it home you can’t. Or said more succinctly, remember the Woody Rule.

Links I Liked

When you hear about someone not wanting to spend a lot of money on a new baby, I’m sure you have the same reaction I do: they must not love their child and they also want the world economy to collapse. Eliza at Money Meet Mind presents a difference take – that maybe, just maybe, the kids don’t need that much stuff after all.

Do you run major purchases by your spouse first? Rob at Mustard Seed Money explores the different thresholds couples use when spending money. Many tell their spouse everything they spend (really?), while some don’t tell their spouse anything (I didn’t know that was an option…). I’m thinking somewhere in the middle might work.

I lived in crappy apartments in my 20’s. Erik at the Mastermind Within had a better strategy: he bought a house, had his buddies for roommates / tenants, and lived more or less for free. Owning real estate paid for by other people is a solid foundation for long-term wealth. Erik’s off to a great start, and you younguns should learn from his example.

The Money Wizard probably should have read Erik’s post. He thinks that he and his girlfriend just bought a house, but to keep things simple, they titled it in her name only (but she promised generally indicated they’ll split costs 50-50). Well played, Money Wizard’s girlfriend. I think it’s just about time for a rent increase.

Remember Gordon Gekko? He was once a supervillain, but history has been kind to him. The Economist’s 1843 looks at 30 years of Wall Street movies and the bad guys who powered them. It’s an entertaining list of movies if you like the genre.

The Economist has a great piece on how U.S. foreign policy is working. While it’s worth noting that “For all its flaws, America has long been the greatest force for good in the world, upholding the liberal order and offering an example of how democracy works”, turning inward and putting “America first” may be OK if the U.S. is guaranteed to be the sole superpower in perpetuity. Which I’m pretty sure is totally going to happen.

And finally, kids. They are the future you know. I want the very best for my sons, but why then am I willing to pass on super elite private schools? Perhaps, as the Atlantic reports, because the parents who send their kids there may not know what they’re doing. Another reminder that correlation <> causation.

\"\"The Verdict on Marmite Is In

A few weeks ago, a good friend who lives in the UK quipped that Bitcoin was a “marmite” issue. As is oft the case when clever folks from the Commonwealth speak, I smiled, pretended I knew what he was talking about, and headed to google.

Turns out Marmite is a food (very loosely termed) – a spread made from yeast extract (yum!), and people either love it or hate it. Get it? It stirs strong passions. Just like Bitcoin.

So I added it to my vocabulary, but I couldn’t stop there. A short trip to the food jobber gave me a jar of Marmite for my very own.

I was a bit shocked with my first taste, as there was a faint aroma of what’s best described as “decomposition”. But I powered through and started to enjoy its powerful, tangy, and confusingly complex taste. It’s one of the odder things I’ve eaten, but I’m squarely in the “love” camp.

The missus took one bite and handed me her piece of toast with a look that was equal disappointment and disgust. She’s a hater.

So there you have it – Marmite: you either love it or hate it. Proven by science.

Upcoming Posts

I’m a guy who thinks markets are pretty efficient and who loves index funds. Yet a majority of my holdings are in individual stocks. I’ve got some explaining to do.


That’s a wrap. Happy Friday everyone!



Picture courtesy of Susanne



10 thoughts on “TGIF: The Woody Rule”

  1. Thanks for the shoutout ABL! 🙂 I definitely recommend house hacking to many young people and hope that more people will try to do it going forward.

    1. My pleasure Erik. It was a great post and reminder – putting other people’s money (both the bank’s and your roommates’) to work early in life is a fast track to riches!

    1. Many thanks Al. And if you miss a post from time to time, think of the fun you can have this winter curled up by the fire with a strong cup of tea and the ABL archives 🙂

    1. Yes, you’re pretty much at her mercy – I think she’ll be calling the shots from here. But the silver lining is that (assuming things go to plan) it’ll be early prep for married life 🙂

  2. Long time fan, second time reader, first time writer. I don’t know what kind of snake oil you’re peddling, but I’m buying it pardner!

  3. Thanks for the shout out! It’s a good thing my kids can’t talk yet….:-)

    I really like The Woody Rule, name and all. It’s one I tend to practice all the time. The only downside is on our hiking trips when we end up with huge backpacks and our fellow hikers virtually jog past with little lightweight packs the size of day bags.

    1. I figured you’d be a Woody Rule adherent 🙂 Most days the day-bag hikers will indeed win, but there’s always a day of reckoning when you break the Woody Rule!

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