Time is money, they say, and many of us feel plagued by a shortage of both. But don't despair -- there are plenty of ways you can boost your financial health that fit easily into even the busiest of schedules. To prove that point, in this episode of the Motley Fool Answers podcast, co-hosts Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp will offer a list of 10 things you can do in under five minutes that will help you make 2020 the year you get your long-term money plan on track.
And to kick things off, Alison has dedicated this week's "What's Up, Alison?" segment to helping you upgrade your financial toolbox. She's been chatting up folks around Fool HQ to find out what their favorite tools and resources are when it comes to budgeting, prioritizing, and tracking their spending and investing performances. Several will drop by the studio to share that knowledge with you.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 7, 2020.
Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I'm Alison Southwick and I'm joined, as always, by Robert Brokamp, personal finance expert here at The Motley Fool. Hey, Bro!
Robert Brokamp: Happy New Year, everybody!
Southwick: Hey, Happy New Year!
Brokamp: And a belated happy birthday to you, by the way!
Southwick: Thank you!
Brokamp: Dec. 26.
Southwick: Oh, you remembered!
Brokamp: I did.
Southwick: What'd you get me?
Brokamp: Oh, you'll find out later after I've gone to the store.
Southwick: You don't actually have to get me anything. It's OK. In this week's episode, we're going to help you start the year on the right financial foot with "10 Things You Can Do in Less Than Five Minutes" to have more money in 2020 and beyond. We're also going to see what tools Fools use to manage their own money, budget, and track their investing performance. All that and more on this week's episode of Motley Fool Answers.
Brokamp: So, Alison, what's up?
Southwick: Well, Bro, since this is our first episode of the year, we probably have some new listeners who are inspired to get their financial house in order, so I decided to ask around Motley Fool HQ to find out what some of the best tools and resources are that our fellow Fools use to budget, prioritize, and track their spending and investing performance. And it turns out there are a lot of money-savvy people who work at the Fool but are not on our investing or planning teams.
Brokamp: Oh, really?
Southwick: Yes. A lot of them actually work in tech, so my first stop took me to Anne Baynes. She's a project manager over on the tech team, and for those of you looking for a path to manage your money better, she recommends a great flowchart that you can find on the Financial Independence subreddit.
Anne Baynes: My name is Anne Baynes. I'm a project manager here at The Motley Fool, and I want to talk about the Financial Independence subreddit flowchart 4.1. Financial Independence is a subreddit. The flowchart was originally created earlier this year by user HappyAsianPanda, and with collaboration from the Financial Independence subreddit community, v4.1 that just got released, I think, last week. It's a great starting place. If you don't know what to do with your money, you just follow the steps.
Southwick: And for those who don't know, what is Reddit?
Baynes: Reddit is a very big website that is split into pieces called subreddits, much like different threads on a forum. One of them is called Financial Independence, and it's a bunch of people who really want to take hold of their money and their future and work it.
Southwick: One of the first steps to get a handle on your money, of course, is to look at your spending and start budgeting. It sounds boring, doesn't it, Bro?
Brokamp: To some people.
Southwick: I know it sounds really fun to you.
Brokamp: Actually, I find it pretty boring, too.
Southwick: Do you really?
Brokamp: Yes, I don't do it as much as I used to. It's not exciting to me. I just know it's important.
Southwick: There we go, so eat your greens. Well, Mike Shade suggests you need a budget.
Mike Shade: I'm Mike Shade. I'm a dev-ops engineer at The Motley Fool.
Southwick: And you're here to recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB).
Southwick: What is You Need a Budget?
Shade: It is an envelope budgeting system at its core, which means that you give every dollar that you earn a role. You stick it in an envelope and you say, "This is what the purpose of that money is for." For goals. Normal expenses. Savings. That sort of thing. It really gives you insight into how every dollar that you spend is used. And it gives you way more visibility than some of the other tracking programs like Mint, Personal Capital -- anything that tracks your expenses automatically will stick it into whatever bucket it thinks it is, and then you look at it and you say, "Oh, I spent this much this month." YNAB is much more of a proactive tool, where you say, "OK, I have this money coming in and I am intending to spend it on this. This much on food. This much on my vehicle." It's much more proactive than reactive, and it really transfers the power from looking back at what you spent to looking forward at what you want to spend. It's not a free tool, but with the money that you save using it, I feel like it pays for itself a few times over.
They generally have four rules. Give every dollar a job, so when the money comes in, you decide right then and there what it's for. Embrace your true expenses, which means you're not hiding that daily Starbucks in your miscellaneous category that you never think about. Roll with the punches, because sometimes you have an emergency that comes up that you're going to spend money on. It makes it really easy to move money from one envelope to another to deal with daily life, because things happen. And then No. 4 is age your money. As you're doing all of this, the age of the dollars that you keep in your account grow older and older because the goal is, obviously, to be spending less than you're taking in.
I'll say, also, there's two ways of using YNAB. You can have it automatically sync your accounts, or you can put your purchases in manually. I found that doing it manually really was the best way to get benefit from it because otherwise you're swiping your card left and right and you're buying things without thinking about it. It's just a little bit of a barrier to spending money to know that you're going to have to record it later.
Southwick: What about an easy solution for putting that budget to work? Kim Cottrell uses Simple Bank to automate allocating her money into buckets.
Kim Cottrell: Simple Bank allows for you to really fine-tune your budgeting. You can split up your checking account into different buckets. Some buckets can be for individual reoccurring expenses, others for financial goals that you'd like to achieve, and others for high-interest savings accounts.
The current interest rate is 1.9% on savings account balances over $10,000 and 1.7% for those under $10,000. I have it set to where my money goes exactly where I want it to go. Each of my monthly expenses goes through budgeted funds after each payday. I choose to pay my debts and allocate funds to my goals manually. What's remaining goes into what I think of as my two-week allowance. This biweekly check-in with my finances helps me hit all of my financial goals.
Southwick: Well, you're on the right track, but how do you keep an eye on all those accounts and your investing success? Well, some people like to use Mint and other people like to use Personal Capital. Let's ask Doug Reale, who is a product manager for The Blueprint. It's our new business advice website. He has some thoughts on how to find out which is right for you.
Doug Reale: Hi, I'm Doug Reale. I'm a product manager for The Blueprint, The Motley Fool's new business advice website. I'd like to talk about two personal finance tools that I use, Mint and Personal Capital.
They have different strengths. Mint is great for when you're first starting out and you need to get control of your cash flows and understand your expenses at a very granular level. You connect all your bank accounts to it, your credit cards, your loans, and then you can track your spending across categories like groceries, restaurants, gas, utilities, entertainment.
What's really great about Mint, when you're first starting to take control of your finances, is you can make a budget and track your spending during the month to get control over where your money goes. The customizations around budgeting are really strong. You can make your own spending categories and then group things into them based on rules that you can create. For example, I have all my streaming subscriptions going into one budget category, so Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, and now Disney+ I can see all together to see if I'm spending too much on streaming.
If you've already got a budget and if you already know where your expenses go and where every cent is -- maybe you already have your own spreadsheets where you track your spending -- then Personal Capital is a good option for overall investment tracking.
Personal Capital doesn't do budgeting well, but what it does do is give you insights into your investment accounts. You connect to your brokerage accounts and your retirement accounts. You're able to see performance across all your accounts as to how your holdings represent different asset classes -- and things that would be very difficult to log into, like each of your individual accounts. What I use this for is to get an overall picture of my asset allocation and the performance of my holdings across different accounts, because I have a 401(k), I have IRAs, I manage my wife's accounts, and it's just a great place to see everything together.
If you're interested in beating the market and that's one of your goals, Personal Capital is also great for tracking your performance against the broader market. You can compare your performance against the S&P 500 and against the Dow.
Southwick: So there you have it. A flowchart to help those just starting to navigate their path to financial independence. You can find it over on the Financial Independence subreddit. Or you can also use You Need a Budget to get a handle on your spending. Then try Simple Bank to automate and allocate toward your goals and Personal Capital and Mint to help you stay on track and monitor your inevitable success. And that, Bro, is what's up.
Brokamp: Nowadays most people are familiar with the field of behavioral finance, that field of science where finance, economics, and psychology get together and point out how we humans actually are pretty imperfect when it comes to money. If you've read anything about behavioral finance, you've come across some common mistakes and biases. The ones you most commonly see are things like loss aversion -- where we react more emotionally to losses than to gains, recency bias -- where we place greater emphasis on what's happened just recently in the last year or two, confirmation bias -- where we just seek out information that confirms what we already believe, and stuff like overconfidence and the bandwagon effect.
But to me one thing is largely ignored by the behavioral finance literature. It's the one that I'm willing to bet costs people hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. I know because, frankly, I'm guilty of it too, and that is procrastination.
Southwick: Oh, we're all guilty.
Brokamp: I know. There was a study by Jeffrey Brown and Alessandro Previtero that found evidence that procrastinators will likely have less saved for retirement. What they did to find out who were the procrastinators was they identified the people in various companies that signed up for their healthcare plan on the very last day. It turns out that those people are also less likely to participate in their retirement plan. They take longer to sign up if and when they do, and they contribute less.
But you probably don't need an academic study to prove that there's things that people put off because we probably all have things that we know that we should do and we just haven't gotten around to it.
Southwick: Like today, for example, I thought, "I'm going to increase my contribution to my 401(k). I am a good person. This is what good people do. Here we go." And then immediately the website was like, "That's not your password. That's not your login name." So immediately I'm like, "Hurdle, hurdle, hurdle," and then I abandoned it. I was like, "Fine, I'll do it this weekend." Ugh. I'm so guilty of this, too.
Brokamp: The hurdle part is a big part of it, and we're going to talk about some of the hurdles here in the show. I do think there are a lot of reasons why people procrastinate, but I do think they overestimate how long it will take to get something done. For a lot of the things -- like the things that have really big impact on our finances -- it doesn't take that long to do. Maybe as little as five minutes, for example. Maybe 10 minutes or maybe 15 minutes, but certainly not much longer than that.
We're going to talk about some of those. To help determine the topics that I chose, I read several articles about either the most common financial resolutions or the most common financial regrets. We're going to cover the biggest things that either (a) you probably want to do this year or (b) things that your future self wished you had done at some point in your life. Are we ready?
Southwick: I'm ready. This is a big promise. Lots of things that I can do in less than five minutes.
Brokamp: In less than five minutes or so.
Southwick: Well, also with the BB&T thing I had to answer all these security questions. Ugh! I mean, the clock is ticking, people, so let's assume that all of that is fine.
Brokamp: We'll go with No. 1 which is, coincidentally, save for retirement. When you look at surveys of people who expressed their biggest regrets, by far the No. 1 in most surveys is I wish I had saved more. If you already belong to a plan and if you know your password and everything, it does not take long to do this. I did increase my contribution to the 401(k) for 2020 because the limits did go up. I timed it. It took less than two minutes, so it doesn't take long. If you already have an IRA, you can always sign up to have money taken from your bank account to the IRA. That does not take very long at all.
When you talked about the hurdles, I think some of the big hurdles are No. 1, people think how much should I contribute? A few guidelines. No. 1, you should definitely take advantage of the full match. According to Vanguard, about one-third of people don't. You should at least be contributing enough to do that. We've talked before about how you should be saving about 15% of your income over your career to be able to retire at some point in your mid- to late 60s. If you are not saving 15%, that's another good guideline.
I talked about the limits that went up. In 2020, for 401(k)s, the limits are $19,500, with another $6,500 if you turn 50 or older by Dec. 31. For IRAs, the limit is $6,000, with another $1,000 if you're 50 or older.
The other thing that I think is a speed bump for people -- and I've had three or four conversations with Fools about this just in the last month -- is should I do the Roth or the traditional? If you're in a lower tax bracket today, go with the Roth. It's almost a no-brainer. If you're in the middle to higher tax bracket, traditional might make more sense, but you can do what I'm doing, is a little bit in both. Nowadays I'm doing about 80% traditional and 20% in Roth.
And then the other speed bump is people wonder, will I have enough money to cover my bills if I have less take-home pay because money is going in the 401(k)? I would say just start saving. After a couple of paychecks you'll figure out whether you're doing OK or not. You can always go back to the previous amount that you were contributing, but I would say just try it and see what happens.
No. 2. Related to this, and that is cut back on spending. A lot of people think they can't save more for retirement because they're spending too much. One of the first things that you can do to determine where you can cut back your spending is see where your money is going. This is a great time of year to do that, because most credit card companies and most banks provide an end-of-year summary. I just looked at mine from my American Express card. It was very easy to look up. It breaks it down by category. You can download it into an Excel file if you want to get real fancy with it.
Southwick: Any surprises?
Brokamp: No, not really. I have a pretty good idea of where these things are going so it's a good time of year to figure out where your spending is going. Some of our fellow Fools provided other suggestions. Mint, Personal Capital, You Need a Budget will also help you determine where your money is going. We talked before about the budgeting guideline. Fifty percent of your money should go to must-pay expenses, 30% to discretionary, and 20% to savings, which I think is also a great guideline.
No. 3. Find a better credit card. What happens if you, unfortunately, have not been able to rein in your spending? You're probably relying on a credit card. It certainly makes sense to get a better credit card, but even if you're just using it and you manage to pay it off every month, it's still a good idea to get a better credit card.
It's very easy, these days, to go to any site -- such as The Motley Fool's Ascent site -- but there are other sites as well. They rank all the credit cards for basically what you're looking for: travel, transfer, or whatever you want to do. You can have money deposited in a 529 account. There are all kinds of benefits.
What we've done recently is go the other way and ask, "Where are we spending most of our money? Which store gets most of our money and do they have a card that offers like 5% back?" We did it. It takes less than five minutes to sign up for a new credit card because they make it very easy to do that.
Southwick: And we were really happy, as we talked on this show previously, when we finally got a travel rewards credit card. I was amazed at how many flights we've gotten for free and how many rental cars -- "essentially free" -- from using our points. It's been surprisingly great.
Brokamp: The one interesting thing about multiple cards, like my wife and I have, is each one has their own set of rules. It might be 5% back if you go here, 2% if you go here, or 1% on this. And also different benefits. If you use certain cards, you might get travel insurance. It was difficult for us to keep it all straight, so my wife is currently working on a basic guideline that we can put in our wallets so whenever we go somewhere, we go to this gas station or this grocery store, we can determine which card we should use.
Southwick: I think someone should invent a really nice-looking wallet that already has a little sleeve where it says, "This one's for gas. This one's for groceries. This one's for travel."
Brokamp: I think that's a great idea. Patent it right now.
Southwick: A Christmas present idea.
Brokamp: There you go.
Southwick: A belated Christmas present idea.
Brokamp: A belated birthday present idea.
Southwick: I don't need it. We only have two credit cards.
Brokamp: No. 4 is to build a bigger emergency fund and/or earn a little more on your cash. This often shows up in either resolutions or surveys about regrets. People wish they had more cash because if you don't have that cash on hand, that's what sends you into debt.
One question is how big your emergency fund should be. We've talked about this before. Three to six months must-pay expenses. Bankrate did a survey that found 30% of people, either themselves or their immediate family, did experience some sort of unexpected big-ticket expense. The average cost was $3,750, with more than one-third saying it cost $5,000 or more. I actually think that's a pretty good guideline for how much to have in an emergency fund.
Again, it's very easy to find a higher-yielding savings account. You don't have to earn nothing on your cash these days. The Motley Fool's website The Ascent has a whole ranking of where you can get high-yielding savings accounts as do other places. Once you go there, you see which one you like, you click, and you get an account. It takes definitely less than five minutes to open that type of account. Then just have $200-400 automatically sent to that account every month and you'll build that up pretty quickly.
No. 5 is make an extra payment to your mortgage. One of the biggest resolutions for people is to get out of debt. It often means credit card debt, school loans, but also the mortgage. Making that extra payment can have a pretty big effect on your overall wealth. I'm going to give you an example, here.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average size of a new mortgage is $350,000. According to Freddie Mac, the rate on a 30-year mortgage, now, is 3.7%. If you put those two together if you get a new mortgage today, after you pay it back in 2050, 30 years, the total cost of that $350,000 mortgage will be $580,000.
But what if you sent in an additional $250 a month? First of all, you're going to cut seven years off your mortgage, so you're going to pay it off in 2043, but the total cost of that mortgage is going to drop from $580,000 to $524,000. Basically you saved $56,000 by sending in that extra $250 a month. Again, very easy to go into your bank account. Just have it sent directly to the mortgage company. You'll probably want to include your mortgage account number on there. Make it clear that it is going to principal and principal only, not principal and interest. But it's very easy to do. My wife and I have been doing this for three or four years now.
No. 6 is open a 529 savings account. Among parents, one of the biggest goals is to save more for college. Among people who went to college, one of their biggest regrets is the amount of money they had to borrow to go to college. Opening up a 529 savings account before the kid goes to college is one way to cut back on that debt.
It's very easy to do. Go to SavingForCollege.com. In the upper left you'll see "529 Plans." You click on that and then you'll see your states. It's literally your state's plan. Click on that and you get a map. Click on your state and you'll get a rating for your state's plan. Instead of being done by stars, it's done by caps, like graduation caps...
Brokamp: Yes, very cute. If your state's plan is four caps or higher, it's probably a good choice to do this, especially if you pay state income taxes and you get a deduction on contributions to the state's plan. And right on the website there's a button that says Enroll Now. They make it very easy to sign up for a 529 savings plan.
On average, people are contributing between $200 and $400 a month just to give you some numbers. If you are doing this right, when your kid is born you save $300 a month for 18 years and you earn 6% a year. You'll get about $115,000. Now at today's prices, that's going to be almost plenty for especially an in-state school.
Eighteen years from now it probably won't be so much, but I don't think you have to feel pressured to save for the entire cost, because over the course of the next 18 or so years, depending on how old your kids are, other things will happen. Hopefully you'll get raises, so you'll be able to pay for some of it out of cash flow. They might get scholarships. You might inherit money along the way. And, of course, there are school loans. It's possible to do that, but the more you have saved now, the less you have to borrow in the future.
Now for the last three, I have to admit that these will take much longer than five minutes, but the first step will only take five minutes.
Southwick: I don't know if we're going to allow it. You know what? Let's just hear what you have to say.
Brokamp: You'll still be happy if you do these things -- how's that? -- because these are so important.
Southwick: And they're worth it.
Southwick: So here's your extra credit, listeners.
Brokamp: So we've moved on to item No. 7. If you are among the majority of Americans who have no estate plan, no will, no trust, take the first step and find a qualified attorney. There are a couple of ways to do that. No. 1 is just contact friends, family, or professionals that you know and respect, and see who they work with. It might even be someone at work. If your office has in-house legal counsel, they might know somebody.
Just take that five minutes to send out some sort of email to people saying, "Who do you know? Who have you used? Who do you recommend?" and then make that appointment. We generally don't recommend that you use these online wills. For some people it can be good, especially if your life's not very complicated or it's just the bare minimum you can do right now. It's better than nothing, but we do recommend that you see an attorney. It will take time and it will take money, but it will be well worth it.
No. 8 is get sufficient life insurance. I was looking for what's generally considered a well-rated website because I haven't gotten all my life insurance online and the ones that came up pretty frequently are PolicyGenius.com and Quotacy.com. I personally haven't used them, but other articles I've read recommended them.
Some companies to go directly to I highly recommend are TIAA-CREF and USAA, but you have to be related to the military with USAA. Your employer might offer life insurance and you can get supplemental life insurance. Just going on to any of these sites or contacting any of these people will only take a few minutes. You enter your information and get that sent off. What will then happen is you'll probably have to do some sort of a medical exam and some sort of follow-up, but it really is not that difficult.
As a good rule of thumb, just get term life insurance at 10 times your income for as long as you need it and that's generally until your kids are out of the house.
Obviously, I think we all know that this is important. It's a low probability event, especially if you're younger, but I know of several people whose parents died in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. They did not have life insurance, and boy, it put the rest of their family in a bind.
Southwick: Do you need life insurance if you don't have kids?
Brokamp: Generally speaking, I would say no. Really, the rule of thumb is, does anyone rely on your income? And if you were gone, would everyone that's important to you be OK financially? If the answer is yes -- most people will be fine and no one's relying on my income -- then you don't need life insurance.
No. 9, ask for a raise.
Southwick: It's just that easy.
Brokamp: It's just that easy. The unemployment rate is still very low. Employees are in generally good bargaining positions these days. Now it's the beginning of the year, so maybe you received an end-of-the-year raise, recently, and you're in no position to be asking for another one.
But if you have not actually contacted your HR and recruiting pools to get advice on this as to where to go, you can get compensation information based on your profession at Glassdoor and PayScale. I've gone to the Department of Labor's wage data by area and occupation. That's pretty useful.
They also recommended that if your profession has some sort of professional association, they will often provide an annual compensation report and say not only how much people are making but which certifications are valued higher these days.
And our HR Fools emphasize that it's always good to just sit down with your manager and talk about it. Find out why you're getting paid what you are, because it's not just your salary -- it's the overall benefits package -- and what you can do to earn a greater salary if that's one of your goals. So even just taking the five minutes to look at something like PayScale.com and see how much people are making in your area and your profession and then sending an email to your manager and scheduling that meeting could be a great first start.
Southwick: One thing that's fascinating about the labor market -- and how it is so competitive right now to hire people -- is that I know, here at the Fool, we're having to offer people more money more often. So if you are thinking of making the leap, you also are in a position to ask for more money. I wonder how that will influence all of the employees who have been working at the Fool for a while, because the newer people who are getting hired might be getting hired at a higher rate.
Brokamp: It's interesting you say that, because I did read an article about a month ago saying if you really want to bump up your income, you probably have to change jobs, because employers are really looking for people. You have more negotiating power rather than if you're already in a job. To be given a 20% raise is unlikely...
Southwick: That's insane, yes.
Brokamp: ...but if you go out to the marketplace and find a place that's willing to pay you 20% more, it's more likely.
Southwick: Absolutely. All right. Bring us home, Bro.
Brokamp: All right, something we've talked about before. Get a checkup from a fee-only financial planner. I think everyone should do this every five to 10 years and certainly before a major life transition such as retirement. You just want to make sure that you're on track. You don't have to hire someone to manage your money, you can just pay them by the hour or by the project and say, "Look at what I'm doing. Am I doing everything right? Am I on track? Is there something I'm missing?"
There are three places we recommend you do that. Of course, FoolWealth.com. We have certified financial planners here at Motley Fool Wealth Management...
Southwick: A sister company of The Motley Fool.
Brokamp: Thank you very much. Many of those planners have been on our show. There's also the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), and the Garrett Planning Network. Go to those websites, put in your zip code and they'll tell you which planners are in your area. Then you just scroll through the descriptions of their services to see if they offer what you're looking for. If you want money management they'll say that and their investment minimums, but if you just want someone by the project or by the hours, they'll say that, too. Schedule two or three, interview them, and choose the one that you think is the best fit for you.
In closing, we said a lot of these things would take five minutes and a lot of them will, but maybe if you listened to this you thought, "Oh, yeah, I should do that, and I should do that, and I should do that."
Southwick: The so-called five minutes add up.
Brokamp: Exactly. So my final recommendation is also something we've talked about before, and that is taking a financial health day. It can be taking a day off work. Just taking all day Saturday or Sunday. But if you sit down and just focus on knocking some of these things out, I think it would just take two to four hours at the most to accomplish a lot of this stuff and your future self will definitely thank you.
Southwick: January is the time of year when we all snap out of our holiday reverie and assess the toll it took on our bodies. We're detoxing. We're peletoning. Every year it's something new all over again. Becoming healthier is a good thing because we know health and wealth go hand in hand. Isn't that right, Bro?
Brokamp: Very true. Study after study shows it's true.
Southwick: But why is that, Bro?
Brokamp: First of all, being unhealthy is expensive. It costs more in copays. It costs more in missing work. You're not as productive. And wealthier people have the resources to do certain things that increase health. You generally can afford better healthcare. You can generally afford better food. Lots of ways that they both go back and forth and why healthier people are wealthier.
Southwick: But, of course, not all health trends are created equal and some can be pretty expensive. Do you want to guess how much the average American spends on health and wellness fitness stuff per month?
Brokamp: Two hundred dollars?
Southwick: Oh, you went high -- $155 per month, which is roughly $112,000 over your entire lifetime.
Brokamp: Oh, my goodness gracious.
Southwick: That adds up. So $112,000, but on what? Well, the people over at Vice thought it'd be fun to poll readers on what were the worst wellness trends of the decade. I'll warn you guys. The article does get a bit vulgar at times, but it was a fascinating roundup of the trends that captivated us over the last 10 years. They created a bracket of 64 different trends from kombucha to "all the milks" and fidget spinners. At the time of the taping, they are barely into the bracket, but I wanted to see if you guys agree or disagree so far, because they opened it up for their readers to vote.
A lot of these trends come from either Gwyneth Paltrow or Silicon Valley, so let's start with a first matchup of microdosing versus kale. Silicon Valley brought us microdosing in the late 2015. It's the act of taking very small amounts of LSD or some other psychedelic to promote creativity and productivity but, as VICE writes, microdosing is also just being high at work.
Up against microdosing we have kale thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow, who, in 2011, went on Ellen to share the good word on kale chips. So what do you think was a worst trend? Microdosing or kale?
Brokamp: I'm going to go with microdosing, just because I know people who are big believers in kale. I don't know too many microdosers, at least that admit it to me.
Rick Engdahl: What do you mean by worse?
Southwick: I don't know. Define it for yourself. I happen to like kale, personally, and I have some good recipes that have taught me that kale can be good.
Brokamp: How about this? I'm more interested in my kids trying kale than trying microdosing.
Southwick: LSD? That's probably a good point.
Engdahl: Yes, I like kale fine.
Southwick: So Vice readers -- 60% said microdosing was worse than kale.
Brokamp: What was that percent?
Southwick: Sixty percent.
Brokamp: So 40% would rather do microdosing or think microdosing is better?
Southwick: Yes, than kale. The next step is quinoa versus FitBit. It only took quinoa thousands of years, but 2013 was declared the international year of quinoa. Oh, Rick's shaking his head. All right, quinoa up against FitBit and our sudden urge to track every step we took for about a week before tossing the thing in a drawer never to be seen again. What's worse? FitBits or quinoa?
Engdahl: My kids are loving FitBits these days. I'm not sure why, but they're competitive with their cousins about it. Quinoa is just another grain. Who cares?
Southwick: It's an ancient grain packed with... I love quinoa.
Engdahl: All grains are ancient.
Brokamp: There's a new one on the planet. So going with your throwing the FitBit in the drawer, I'm going to say that's worse. That makes me feel bad because it's a waste of money. At least with the quinoa you generally eat it.
Southwick: Quinoa's good. I'm going to have quinoa for lunch.
Brokamp: I'm not a big fan, but I'd rather eat it than eating a FitBit.
Southwick: Well, Vice readers believe that FitBits are worse 58%. Quinoa came in at 42%, so they're still kind of split. Here's one that hurts me personally. Seltzer water versus the Peloton. We drink so much spicy water, as Hanna used to call it, and it turns out that it actually erodes the enamel of your teeth. It's something about carbon dioxide and having a higher acidity. Science, science, science. The problem is we drink a lot of La Croix in our house, and I thought I was being good.
Brokamp: But you're not.
Southwick: Apparently not. Well, all right. Fizzy water against Peloton, the bike that costs over $2,000 and then you've got to pay $39 a month for classes. The company was founded in 2012 and achieved a "vaguely culty bougie" fitness level. Yes, but it reached peak ridicule, of course, following their holiday ad -- you'll remember the husband bought his wife the bike for a present. So what's worse? Peloton or seltzer water?
Brokamp: Well, seltzer water really is bad for your teeth, and I think the Peloton is probably bad for your wallet, but as long as you're using it, it is good for your health. So I would say the seltzer water is worse for your health and better for your wealth. Something like that.
Engdahl: I like seltzer water.
Southwick: I do, too.
Engdahl: I even have a SodaStream. I'm all about the seltzer.
Southwick: So Vice readers -- and this might be a little bit of your aforementioned recency bias here -- that Peloton is worth 72% as the worst fitness trend over seltzer water, so I'm going to keep drinking fizzy water. I just love it.
Next up and finally, CrossFit versus crystals. Yes, that's right. CrossFit -- if someone you know got into CrossFit, you'd know it. The no-frills strength and conditioning workout might call to mind images of people in gyms doing burpees and flipping tires, and CrossFit is up against crystals. Did you know that they harness energy which can be used to heal, to attract, and to manifest -- whatever that means. So what do you think? What's the worst fitness and wellness trend, CrossFit or crystals?
Brokamp: Crystals are worse. I'm a big believer in CrossFit. It was a big part of how I lost 30 pounds.
Southwick: You lost 30 pounds?
Brokamp: Yes, I'm still down about 25 pounds from my max weight.
Southwick: From all those burpees and all those...
Brokamp: CrossFit and Zumba. The Zumba was a big help, too.
Southwick: There you go.
Engdahl: Crystals and all of that woo.
Southwick: All of that woo. So Vice readers would agree. Sixty percent said crystals were the worst trend, versus 40% who said CrossFit. So because there are 64 trends in this bracket, there's a lot more voting to come and a lot of other trends to reminisce about, like chia seeds -- probably also ancient, activated charcoal, zoodles, and bulletproof coffee. Remember when people were putting butter in their coffee and calling it bulletproof coffee?
Brokamp: Yes, I remember that.
Southwick: So stupid. All right, well I can't wait for the next 10 years of wellness trends that are in store for us and all the money that we get to spend on it in the future.
Brokamp: That's right.
Southwick: Well, that's the show. It's edited bulletproofingly by Rick Engdahl. Our email is Answers@Fool.com. Send us your questions, your comments, your concerns. For Robert Brokamp I'm Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish, everybody!