The MapleMoney Show » How to Invest Your Money » Investing

How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health, and Wealth, with Andrew Hallam

Presented by Willful

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

Do you feel like your life needs more balance? Sometimes, in our pursuit of a better job, or more money, we lose sight of what really matters. We search for happiness, but then realize that financial or career success might not be making us any happier. My guest this week is here to talk about balance: How to invest and spend for happiness, Health, and Wealth.

Andrew Hallam is one of the world’s most prolific personal finance speakers, having spoken at corporations and organizations in more than 32 different countries. As the author of Millionaire Teacher and Millionaire Expat, he’s the only Canadian personal finance writer to have a book hit #1 for Amazon’s personal finance and investing categories in Canada, the US, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

Andrew and his wife have been globally nomadic for the past eight years. His latest book is called, Balance: How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health and Wealth.

Andrew and I start our conversation by discussing the four quadrants of a successful life. Andrew points out that most often, people associate success with money and career. But studies show that a person’s life satisfaction actually starts to decline once they reach a certain income level. And the income level isn’t that high. In fact, the more materialistic a person is, the more unhappy they tend to be.

Andrew goes on to explain why early retirees tend to live shorter lives, how giving can lead to greater happiness, and why you may want to be careful about the friends you choose. It’s a fascinating interview that you don’t want to miss!

This episode of The MapleMoney Show is brought to you by Willful: Online Wills Made Easy. Did you know that 57% of Canadian adults don’t have a will? Willful has made it more affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create legal Will and Power of Attorney documents online from the comfort of home.

In less than 20 minutes and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer, you can gain peace of mind knowing you’ve put a plan in place to protect your children, pets, and loved ones in the event of an emergency.

Get started for free at Willful and use promo code MAPLEMONEY to save 15%.

Episode Summary

  • The four quadrants to a successful life
  • Life satisfaction begins to decline beyond a certain income level
  • The research suggests that materialistic people are less happy
  • So many of us buy certain things to be seen having them
  • People tend to be happiest in their 20’s and their 50’s
  • No one on their deathbed says, “I wish I had more money.”
  • Statistics show that early retirees don’t live as long
  • The type of people you want to spend time with

Read transcript

Do you feel like your life needs more balance? Sometimes in our pursuit of a better job or more money, we lose sight of what really matters. We search for happiness, but then realize that financial or career success might not be making us any happier. My guest this week is going to talk about balance. Andrew Hallam is one of the world’s most prolific personal finance speakers, having spoken at corporations and organizations in more than 32 different countries. As the author of Millionaire Teacher and Millionaire Expat, he’s the only Canadian personal finance writer to have a book at number one for Amazon’s personal finance and investing categories in Canada, the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. Andrew and his wife have been globally nomadic for the past eight years. His latest book is called, Balance – How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health and Wealth. 


Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. This episode of the Maple Money Show is brought to you by Willful. Did you know that 57 percent of Canadian adults don’t have a will? Willful has made it more affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create a legal will and power of attorney documents online from the comfort of home. In less than 20 minutes, and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer, you can gain peace of mind knowing you’ve put a plan in place to protect your children, pets and loved ones in the event of an emergency. Get started for free at and use promo code Maple Money to save 15 percent. Now, let’s chat with Andrew… 


Tom: Hi, Andrew. Welcome to the Maple Money Show. 


Andrew: Thanks very much for the invitation, Tom. I really appreciate it. 


Tom: Well, I’m glad to have you on. You’ve got a new book coming out called, Balance, How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health and Wealth. It’s all there in the title but going through the book, I actually found it very interesting because in this world of personal finance topics, it seems when you hit a certain point where you’ve made some money and good investment choices, you look for the next thing. That’s what I find. Once I felt more comfortable with money, I started looking at things like improving my health and looking at how my relationships are structured. Maybe this works different for other people though. Maybe their health comes first, then they move on to something else but your book kind of looks at all of them pretty equal. And early on in the book you mention the four quadrants to a successful life which are, money, relationships, health, and purpose. Just to get us started off can you explain what these four quadrants mean to you? 


Andrew: Yeah, it’s interesting because, for me, I noticed that we toss the word success around, and we define it culturally as something that relates to career and money. That’s predominantly how we define what success is. But the interesting thing is that if you ask anybody, why do you want to be successful, even conventionally successful? Why do you want money? Why do you want a promotion? Why do you want to run a marathon? Why do you want to raise your kids that way instead of this way? When you start asking people questions like that, digging for the question why, eventually their answers will start to sound really similar. People are looking for something that will make them happy, feel fulfilled, give them some sense of purpose, and make them feel secure. The essence of this was interesting to me because these are all components of life satisfaction. We do what we do and make the decisions we make to try to facilitate strong, life satisfaction. So based on that, life satisfaction equals success. That’s it. It’s not money, it’s not career. It’s not how fast you might be able to run a marathon. Life satisfaction—that equals success. What I wanted to do is look at what the science says about enhancing life satisfaction. Life is like a dark hourglass that gets tipped at birth. You can’t see into it because it’s tinted. And nobody knows how much sand they have left. Life can end at any point for any of us so I think one of the best things to do is look at overall life satisfaction and try to make sure we live the best lives we can today with an eye on tomorrow. Looking at balance, I recognized that somebody who didn’t have good relationships, for example, could not be successful because all of the research suggests that relationships are pivotal to life satisfaction. You could have all the money in the world but if your relationships are a train wreck, you don’t have life satisfaction so how can someone with lots of money and bad relationships actually be a success? I wanted to redefine that because I felt redefining it was a lot healthier. Again, you need a certain amount of money, there is no doubt. You need enough money to put a roof over your head, pay for medical, to spend on experiences (specifically with people you really love and respect) and a bit of money for retirement. We do need money, but these other components like health, relationships and sense of purpose are huge. I talk about success and life satisfaction as a four legged table, and those are essentially the pillars. 


Tom: And I love that because, yes, money can buy happiness, but it is only one part of what you need. It’s what you do with that money to make you happy and how much time and effort you’re putting in. If you’re someone working 60 plus hours a week for that money, chances are you’re not happy. Maybe your job’s really fulfilling but other than that, it’s not something that’s going to make you happy in itself. You can say, “I got a promotion and now I’m making more,” but now you’re working more too. On the podcast, I admit all sorts of things I’ve done terribly. But one of the things I think I’ve done better is knowing when I’ve hit a certain level. I was doing the corporate ladder thing. Then we had our first kid, then our second kid. And the blog was starting to do better so I figured I was good. I didn’t need another promotion that meant working 50 hours or more. I wanted to do my 40 hours, give nothing extra and focus on other things that matter. I think I made a great choice there. I’ve seen people on the other end of it, no matter whether it’s kids or something on the side (a business like I have) just keep getting promoted and they’re not happy. They’re not happy in other ways too. Maybe they’ve stretched too far. Yes, you’re a really good employee, now your manager, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right job for you. Not only does it make them unhappy, it can really ruin their career as well. You’ve gone too far where you may be outside your comfort zone or skill set. 


Andrew: Yeah, it’s so interesting looking at Richard Easterlin’s research on life satisfaction as it relates to income. Of course, these are just aggregate studies. It doesn’t mean that somebody who earns $1 million a year is less happy than someone who earns $90,000 a year. But it’s so interesting how he looked at how life satisfaction increased with income, up to a point. I just did some math because I saw that point obviously increased with inflation over time. Purdue University did a study that was very international. It went through a variety of different countries and regions to see where that point was, where life satisfaction actually ends up plateauing? When I did the math on that, it ended up being about 60 percent higher than the median national income of that given country. So we’re kind of primitive. We’re actually happier when we earn a little bit more money than our neighbors. That’s interesting in itself. But to your point, once we earn beyond that threshold, which is something Richard Easterlin did not look at but the Purdue based study did look at (in every single one of these countries) and there’s actually a downward slope. Beyond a certain level of income, life satisfaction ends up turning downward. Of course, I’m not saying that’s the case for everybody, but on aggregate, the research on this is really robust. One of the reasons this occurs is that, theoretically, when we have more income, we spend more. There is a direct correlation between what people earn and what people spend. If you’re earning more money, most people tend to be spending more on material acquisitions. The research suggests that material acquisitions do not enhance our life satisfaction. In fact, it’s a lot like eating sugar. You get a high from purchasing something new but then hedonic adaptability falls into play and soon it’s just another thing. Like your latest phone. Shortly after purchasing it, it’s just another phone. You buy a brand new car. You’re excited about it for a little while, but then you’re not focused on it as you’re driving day-to-day, you’re focused on other things so it just becomes another vehicle that gets you from point A to point B. For a lot of these really high-income people as well, not only do they tend to be more materialistic—and the research suggests that materialistic people are (on aggregate) less happy than people who are not materialistic, those jobs typically end up with more responsibility. So to your point, where you’re talking about some of those positions you were looking at noting too, that with those comes added responsibility, often more time at work. And when we’re spending more time working and have added responsibility, there’s an extra layer of stress there. There’s a component where it’s harder to get a good, solid eight hours of sleep if you’re working a lot. And are you looking after your body? Are you exercising? Are you spending time with people you love? How much time are you spending with your family and friends? If you’re working 60 to 70 hours a week, that’s a really, really hard thing to do. So life satisfaction typically ends up declining at a certain threshold on aggregate. 


Tom: I think when people are materialistic, it’s like you said about this mindless thing with sugar too, if you’re just buying something for that, that rush, that’s obviously bad. It doesn’t mean that someone can’t want something. Maybe they value something differently and actually do want to buy it. That’s great. But if it’s that shopping rush, obviously, that’s so much worse than taking the time to say that this is what I want. This is one of those bucket list items. I really want a hot tub. I’ve never had a hot tub, but I really want one, and I hope I would actually use it every day. I know some people don’t think this out enough and they don’t use it, but I feel like I would. With something like that, I would give myself permission to save up for it, get the right deal. But it wouldn’t be this impulse thing of saying, “I’m just going to go out and buy a hot tub.” 


Andrew: That’s so smart. In the book, Balance, what I did there was talk about something called the “deserted island litmus test.” There will be people who will say they really appreciate, let’s say, German engineering and a top end Mercedes Benz. It’s just something they will claim they really, really appreciate. And no doubt there have to be some people that just love that to bits. But then I ask this question, “Would you still purchase it if it were an invisible car and no one could ever see you drive it? And nobody knows you owned it?” This is a really interesting thing. I was talking to a woman in Cumberland as I was mountain biking, and I relayed this story in my book, Balance. I was talking about the deserted island litmus test. And she said, “It’s so interesting that you bring that up because we just bought the Model S,” which I guess is the Model S. Tesla—top of their line for Tesla at the time. She said, “We just bought one about two months ago.” If I were super honest with myself, I would ask, would I actually own this thing if nobody knew I owned it or could even see it? She says, “No, I wouldn’t have bought it. I wouldn’t have purchased it. I would have purchased an electric car because that’s what I wanted but it would have been something much more modest.” It’s asking that hard-core question and being really honest with ourselves, which is so, so important, because so many of us buy things in part to be seen having them. Yet, when you dig into the “why you actually want to be seen having it,” if people are really honest  they want something a little bit better. Potentially, this is a really primitive thing, but in a sense, we actually want a little bit of “envy” from our neighbors. You can even see advertisements that say, “Buy this and be the envy of your neighborhood.” Envy is not a good thing. When we feel envy the people, we don’t feel love for them. In a way, we’re saying “Damn!” There’s something there that is not necessarily embracing. In the book, Balance, I talk about a town called, Roseto Pennsylvania. In the 1800s, people had come from Italy, Sicily, I believe, and they lived in multigenerational homes. They built a really tight community in Rosetta, where there was an open door policy. People were in and out of each other’s homes. Some of them had more money than others. But if they had money, it was considered a social taboo to have a car that was significantly better than everybody else’s. It was considered a social taboo to have a house that was better than your neighbors. One of the things that caught scientists’ attention with Rosetta was that people there lived a really long time and they were really happy. They had all these cool civic communities. They were in and out of each other’s houses all the time, and there was nobody standing out with something like a bigger house they bought, or the bigger car. Once people started to do that in the late 1970s when some of the younger people got the sense of the American dream and started thinking, “I’m going to buy a better car and a bigger house than my parents have. And I’m going to build that little bit further out,” it wasn’t this tight, tight town anymore. It ended up kind of spreading out. Today, as a result of that, people in Roseto, Pennsylvania, don’t live any longer than they do in any other typical American town. It is so interesting how these things can affect us on the cellular level as it relates to money and so many things that we don’t even know or recognize. 


Tom: I would have to think that we’ve heard the “Keeping Up With the Joneses” thing, but that example of that town just takes some of these stressors away of not having to think that way. If the culture is there that you’re not going to get a bigger house or a nicer car, you don’t even have to weigh these decisions as much, I would think. 


Andrew: Yeah. I think people too, typically, when they get a little bit older, start to think more for themselves and decide, “To hell with what my neighbors think. I’m going to be me.” And an interesting case that I referenced via an economics professor named David Blanchflower, he looked at happiness in 132 different countries, and found it was actually U-shaped. By that I mean, happiness—and let’s just call it life satisfaction, because happiness in itself is really fleeting. But life satisfaction tends to be highest in our early 20s and then again, about the age of 50. And granted, when you’re into your 30s and 40s, you have all of these added responsibilities. You have children, your mortgage, and things like that. But there is another element here—social pressure to feel pressure to want to “conventionally succeed.” Once people ended up getting a little bit older and they get into their early 50s, a lot of them start to become far more comfortable in their own skin. They don’t tend to be as pressured. Social pressures need to look a certain way, drive a certain thing, feel respected by your peers because you have a specific type of job. It’s one of those things where I think it’s a little bit wasted if you have to wait until your 50s before you get to that point. One of the points I really want to emphasize in the book is this is how we should think in our 20s, 30s and 40s. This is how we should always think. We should always try to be true to who we are. Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who wrote this book called, The Regrets of the Dying. And I know Daniel Pink’s latest book is along a similar line where they went and asked people on their deathbeds, “What is it that you regret?” And no one says they wished they had more money. No one said they wished their investment portfolio were better or that they had a bigger house or a better car. All of the regrets are relationship based. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t invest money. I spend three or four chapters digging into how to specifically do that for the best statistical odds of success. But it’s so important to have an entire package here and recognize that life is darn short. I’m sure you know people whose lives were cut short, often with no explanation. I’m talking about people who are healthy and happy, and then it just ended for them. That’s the reality of it. I think we have to recognize that to live really well, we have to recognize our mortality. 


Tom: Yeah, and I like that you mentioned earlier on, too, this isn’t the “you only live once,” thing. You set an eye on the future as well because even though you could be gone tomorrow, you could also be around for decades. You have to balance that as well, right? You don’t want to miss out on things in the present, but you also do have to plan ahead. 


Andrew: Yes. One thing I think does alleviate a little bit of financial stress for people, too is, people often say they need a certain amount of money by a certain date—a certain year so they can financially independent. And that’s awesome. I think that’s great to have that is your goal. But then also having that eye on today and making sure that you’re spending money on experiences and you’re not just hoarding everything for some time in the future when you expect to live “La Vida Loca” or at least feel totally free. And the idea of working part-time during your golden years, I’m a huge proponent of that. Let’s say you have a part-time job and earn $15,000 a year. And let’s say you’re financially independent at 40, 45 or 65, whatever it happens to be. The idea is that you keep doing something. And if you’re earning something like $15,000 a year, if you look at how much you need in an investment portfolio based on, say, the 4 percent inflation adjusted withdrawal rate, you need something like $350,000 to throw up $15,000 of income every year. It’s just knowing that having some kind of part time job later, alleviates the stress associated with you having to hit a specific financial number. But there is another benefit to that. And this one I find so, so interesting. The research is robust on this. On aggregate, if you retire earlier on aggregate, people die earlier. So when we retire earlier, we die earlier—on aggregate. One of the reasons is we stop socializing in the same kind of way with younger people at work, problem-solving things mentally, dealing with different relationships. You have relationships at work that are worth dealing with and you’re using your brain for that. Young people coming into the workplace are going to bring in new ideas. The research suggests that if we continue to work past retirement age and just part-time—it could be something really cool that you like to do, that we end up warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our odds of warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s are better, and we live longer. It’s something the Japanese do really well. In Japan, you can find a multi-millionaire woman raking leaves in a park where there are a bunch of children. They have these silver-haired centers where older people can go and find part-time work. And they’re not necessarily doing it for the money. Now, they’re doing it to stay active in their communities. 


Tom: It’s interesting that the stats show you can live longer because I was looking at the exact same solution, but I was looking at it backwards. Since we are living longer, people don’t retire and die in 10 years, I’ve suggested before that you can look at the Wal-Mart greeters of the guy that works at Home Depot and wants to talk to you about all the projects. Or even an Uber driver that just wants to have conversations. There are all these kinds of jobs. I was looking at it more like, because you’re living longer in retirement than ever before, you need to do something. Again, it’s not just the money. The money helps, especially when you don’t have to worry about ups and downs in markets and stuff if you’ve got this steady income, even if it’s $15,000. I was thinking more because you’re living longer and this is what you could do with your time. The idea that it can actually help you live longer is very interesting. 


Andrew: Yeah. So, there really are two reasons—to keep your brain active and socially engaged and keep working part-time at something that engages you in your golden years. Those golden years, for some people who’ve reached FI at age 30, could be now. 


Tom: Another thing I found interesting in the book speaking of this tie in with money and happiness is the idea of giving. You mentioned a poll that 120 out of 136 countries in this poll of people that were giving were happier doing that than those that weren’t giving. Can you go into that a bit, how this giving side works? Is this a case where you have to have more money or is it maybe not income-based? 


Andrew: It’s not income-based. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of money. It can be time, too. Some of the most giving people I’ve ever met are Filipinos. They don’t have a lot of money, but they give. They help each other with money and time. If you recognize that it’s something we need to do on a cellular level—we are a gregarious by nature. Part of our survival hinges on us helping each other. When we look at the evolution of humanity, we have evolved and survived by being cooperative and helping each other. When we’re actually helping each other now, when we give of our money or give time, it does affect us on a cellular level. In the past, it was always “pro-social giving” because when we did give, we could see what was actually happening. So in that study that I referenced in the book, it just referenced general giving. That could be like giving to the United Way. Elizabeth Dunn, who is the author of Happy Money and is also a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, found that pro-social giving was far more important when you could actually know (and can see) the actually results of what you’re contributing. It’s not just this sightless organization. That’s fascinating because it makes us feel better to help other people. I think it’s something that we shouldn’t wait for at some point in the future. We should be finding ways to give now. And the amount we give doesn’t really reflect how much happiness we receive from that. It doesn’t matter whether we’re giving $5 or $500,000. We end up getting the same result. 


Tom: I like the idea of pro-social giving. I hadn’t heard the term before, but it totally makes sense. I’ve written checks for different things that weren’t really even a strong cause for me. It was just giving to whatever cause came around. And I’ve also spent $50 on groceries that the local food bank needed. I did look at the list of what they needed because it was much more helpful to them. I just took that $50 I spent at the grocery store and brought it to them. I remember that more fondly, my going into the food bank personally, and them being very thankful to get the groceries, than writing a check. And with some of these faceless organizations you hear about, where how very little of that money even goes to help them—time is time. When it’s something you can do and actually see the benefits will probably not only make you happier but make you want to give more than this feeling that it’s all going to admin costs anyways. 


Andrew: Your point, Tom, about us actually remembering it—remembering when we give, remembering when we help, creates almost an experience that relates to a part of our identity as well. It gives us something that we can look back on. And it’s interesting that we do remember it. In the book, Balance, I wrote about an example of when I was in my 20s. I got into this habit where I would go for lunch with a friend or one of my sisters, let’s say and we would sit in this restaurant during lunch time. We weren’t doing this to be friendly or to help other people out. In a way, we were sort of doing this for a bit of mischief, but we would look at whose meal we were going to buy. We’d look at all these people around us. It might be a single person sitting at the table or a young family. We would spend half our mealtime trying to sort out who’s check we would cover. And then we would call over a server and say, “Do you see that mother over there with two kids, or that guy over there with his daughter, when the time for the bill comes, please bring it to our table. We are going to pay it. And I don’t want you to actually tell them. Just say, yours is free because it’s covered.” And for us at the time, Tom, it was mischief because it was awesome watching this because they had no clue where and who… How this happened, who paid for this and why? We just thought it was hilarious because we knew they would always remember that and would always wonder who paid for their meal that day. Something happened with us. Yeah, it was a bit mischievous on our side. But the fact that we remembered it and recalled it… I’ve done all kinds dumb things in my lifetime. My friends will say, “Hey, Andrew, do you remember that stupid thing you did…” I remember half of them. But this—I remember just about everybody I bought a lunch for and I think there’s a reason for that. We truly are meant to be generous. I’ve found more productive ways to help people with my money after that, but that is kind of cool too. 


Tom: That’s nice. And your idea of mischief is pretty tame to some people. I see that happening a lot now with places like Tim Hortons drive thru and stuff where everybody is paying for the person behind them. I’ve even heard Tim Hortons employees complaining that it’s kind of hard to figure that out in the drive thru sometimes. But it’s nice if people are doing something for someone else like that, especially in your case, where there is not even a desire to be thanked or anything like that. Like I said, when I took groceries to the food bank, I got thanked and that was nice but you’re doing it in a sense where you’re watching them enjoy it and not looking for any kind of kudos. 


Andrew: Yeah. And you know, when I said that I would find more productive ways of giving later, that’s something I would still do today. But back then, we did it partly for mischief. I say that because there was a moment when it did make me feel badly. I remember there was an older lady we bought lunch for. We watched her out of the window as she walked down the street and she just kept looking behind her. She was scared. Then I realized, “Okay, we got a kick out of it. We enjoyed it,” but that part we didn’t like. We hoped she would look back at that and be really thankful that somebody bought her a lunch, thinking, “Oh, that’s kind of cool. I wonder who that was,” but instead she was probably thinking there might be some kind of a stalker or somebody that was potentially bad news. It made us feel a little bit badly so we became a lot more discerning after that point about how we were going to do it.  


Tom: Well, if it makes you feel better, I would assume that once she got home and realized she was still safe, I’m sure she probably does look back at that a little more positively than that day. 


Andrew: I hope so. I hope so. 


Tom: Another thing in your book I liked was this idea of who you hang out with—your social groups and how they spend. I’ll butcher the quote—not from your book but something that I’ve sort of believed in—you are the average of the five people you hang out with. That applies to everything. It applies to how you are in your career, how you spend. And maybe it’s even that “keeping up with the Joneses” thing too. But in your book, your example is who you would travel with and how that can affect your spending. How important do you think that is? Are there certain people that you might not even want to hang out with at all if they don’t line up with what you value? 


Andrew: I think that you can have friendships for different purposes, for sure. I have a lot of friends that have very different values. When I say core values (in terms of them being really good people) that’s important. I want to spend my time with people who are better than me in terms of just being good, honest, loving, caring, respectful people. People who give them love and respect to others. I like to spend as much time as I can with people like that. I’m drawn to them and I want to be like them. There is no such thing as a perfect person, but I want to be able to emulate parts of them that I really think is cool, things I love. The financial part that is really interesting because it was advantageous for me when I first moved to Singapore because I didn’t have any friends. I was starting from ground zero. And so from that point, I recognized that if I wanted to be financially successful, it was best that I find really cool people who didn’t typically splash out at five star resorts and go to bars and order super expensive drinks all the time. I realized that I had to find my group of likeminded people who were good, honest people, loving respectful people, but also recognize that the money, or at least spending time doing something that didn’t necessarily cost money, was definitely worth doing and making a part of our lifestyle versus splashing out a lot. There were a lot of people that I really liked that I would never travel with and I would never eat with. To say never is probably a stretch. There was a family I went on a five star resort holiday with, that was great. But after that, I never went with them again. We blew so much crazy money on this trip in Bali. And Bali is cheap! The fact was, we just blew a crazy amount of money. They’re awesome. I love them. I love to spend time with them but there are things that I will not do with them. I think that’s something we all need to be aware of because when we’re looking at getting into a social circle and having our peers influence us—and our peers do on a conscious or subconscious level, so being able to find your financial tribe is definitely worthwhile, if you can. 


Tom: Yeah, I’ve seen it more and more. Maybe it’s my own personality making it even worse. It just seems that whoever I’m around, I definitely pick up habits, whether they’re good or bad. I’d rather have them be good habits, whether it’s how they spend, how they eat, drink, or whatever. I feel like maybe I’m even more down that path of picking up these habits, good or bad. But I can see how that could affect anyone. It’s almost like peer pressure when you were a kid but there’s not necessarily even a pressure to it. It’s just that you’re around these people and you’re going to do what they do. 


Andrew: It’s probably true. We end up being the average of the five people we spend the most time with. 


Tom: I see it over and over. And yeah, I’d rather be around someone that motivates me to do better in all these different areas, like the four pillars you mentioned for your table. Another thing I have found motivating that you mentioned in your book, too, is tracking things. Whether you’re tracking your finances or you’re tracking your weight, in both cases it helped me a lot to really track things and follow them, maybe even a little obsessively. I track everything on the health side, all these different stats through a smart scale. And I track my sleep. I’ve got this infrared thing that scans me, basically, while I’m sleeping. But by having all this information and actually looking at it every day, I just make better decisions. It goes the same with money. If you’re spending and not tracking it, those things sneak up you. You spend $200 here and there, and all of a sudden you’ve got thousands of dollars on the credit card. 


Andrew: For me, I’ve tracked my money for years just with note paper. I had nothing really fancy. I would write it down in this little brown, paper book. And then when I was able to get an app from my phone, I was using that. And some people will say, “Oh, I don’t need to do that because my credit card will track everything,” but that’s not the same. If you’re actually, manually entering what you’re spending your money on and you categorize it where you can actually see it, you become accountable for actually spending in a way that aligns with your values. And you recognize how much you’re spending in areas that you’re not getting a lot out of. For example, you might say, “Wow, look at how much I’m spending on takeout coffee, coffee on the run that I could be bringing from home. I’m not even really enjoying it because I’m driving through rush hour traffic while I’m drinking it.” It makes you really aware of that. And research suggests that if we track what we spend, we end up spending less. I’ve never been somebody that has a budget. My lifestyle is often just so much in flux, especially being a digital nomad, where sometimes I’m in a higher cost place than other times. Budgets, I think, are really they’re really boring. They’re all like diets, I think because generally, you feel like crap if you end up blowing it (on your budget). But just by virtue of tracking what you spend allows you to spend less money, which ensures you can invest more for your future and then perhaps spend more money on things that matter like giving, and actual experiences. The research on the eating is interesting too. Weight Watchers did a study to see what single variable allowed people to lose weight most effectively. And it wasn’t exercise or diet. It was actually just tracking what they ate. 


Tom: It’s interesting how you mentioned the idea of diets and budgets. I’m not a fan of either. I do recommend budgets to certain people. It depends on you handle money. But in both cases, what I find with tracking, is it’s more about borders—having some kind of limit. I don’t say, “I’m going to spend this much on groceries and this is my utility bill,” but I know how much I want to spend in a month. Just having a general limit goes a long way. And then on the health side, I’ve lost over 50 pounds and a big part of it was intermittent fasting, where I’m eating between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm only. I’m not getting into some fad diet but I am putting limits on myself. In both cases, I’ve found just having some kind of rule to follow is a lot better than getting into every little thing and failing when you’re not meeting whatever the rules of that diet or budget are. 


Andrew: Congratulations on losing 50 pounds, that’s amazing. I fully relate to that. You said you track your sleep. I’m on and off the wagon with respect to tracking sleep. I’m a little bit obsessed by it because, for me, I operate well on about eight hours a night. But what happens is, if I don’t write down how much I sleep each night, I end up staying up a little bit later and later and getting less and less sleep. Then I have to kick myself in the butt and say, “Okay, start tracking this now,” and once I start tracking it and writing it down, I end up being far more accountable. I’ll turn the television off, put the book away, put the computer away and get to bed earlier so I end up getting more sleep. And I feel so much better as a result of that. So, yeah, it is so interesting. 


Tom: Sleep is what I’m working on now. You would not like the app I use because it shows you deficits. If you’re supposed to be getting so much sleep and you’re staying up too late, over 14 days if you’re 20 hours out or something, it gets a little depressing watching that build up. But, in a slightly negative way it is motivating because you can see it add up. It’s just like looking at your coffee spending for a year compared to just three dollars that day. It’s probably something worth seeing it add up—where it starts to mean more than missing out on half an hour or an hour of sleep. 


Andrew: That’s a recuperative time, isn’t it? That’s when our cells regenerate. That’s the best time for us to recuperate and ward off things like cancer, for example. It’s ensuring we’re getting a good night’s sleep and consistently sleeping well. 


Tom: Before I let it go, is there anything else we missed here about bringing this all together? We talked about the four quadrants, but how does this all come together to truly have that balance? 


Andrew: I think it’s just back to that hourglass component, recognizing that life is short or can be short, and that it’s like a dark hourglass that gets tipped at birth and that every moment you have to recognize might be your last. It sounds a little morbid, but it’s an important thing to do. Because then you’re going to appreciate not just your life and your time, but you’re going to appreciate your loved ones as well. The same thing applies to them. Our relationships are so, so key. And just that idea of knowing that all of us are mortal and we can go at any time, I think really prioritizes how we’re treating other people. 


Tom: That’s great. We’ve talked about the book a lot, but can you tell people where they can find it and where they can find you online? 


Andrew: Yes, thanks for asking. I have a website at, My book is available on Amazon Canada, Amazon USA, and all major retail bookstores, including (interestingly) a bookstore in Beirut. Somebody just sent me an image of them saying, “Just bought your book in Beirut. Here’s a picture…” I thought, “Wow, how about that? It’s in Lebanon already,” which is really neat.


Tom: Great, thanks to be on the show. 


Andrew: Oh, thanks so much, Tom. I really appreciate it. 


Thank you, Andrew, for your insights into true happiness and for showing us why the sole pursuit of career success may leave us searching for more. You can find the show notes for this episode at If you have a moment, head over to our YouTube channel, and subscribe there! We’ll be getting back to releasing never-before-seen content soon. You can search for Maple Money or go to and subscribe today. As always, thank you for listening, and I look forward to seeing back here next week. 

Beyond a certain level of income, life satisfaction ends up turning downward…on an aggregate, the research on this is really robust…the research suggests that material acquisitions do not enhance our life satisfaction. - Andrew Hallam Click to Tweet