Edition #10: Compare Up for Inspiration, Down for Appreciation

Plus! No More Wings, Gini Index, Crypto Savings

written by oz chen

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Last week, I talked about having skin in the game

Today I’ll chat about financial self comparison, a heart-warming Youtube video, the Gini index, and end with this week’s tip on crypto savings accounts.

My friends once told me about a guy named Dan Bilzerian.

Do a quick search and you’ll see a buff bearded bro with babes, boats, and enough bud and bullets to start a cannabis army. Oh wait.

His social media profile is the wet dream of every red-blooded American male.

I had to unfollow him.

I knew that if I kept looking at his feed, I would grow despondent, unable to shake the contrast between his excessive wealth and abs to my plebeian existence.

*Shakes fist at sky* Damn you Dan Bilzerian!

Self comparison is a hell of a drug, and social media is the needle that administers it.

Social media makes us feel poorer

It’s been well documented that social media use can impact wellbeing via hyper self comparison. Psychologist Mai-Lyn Nguyen calls this “seeing everyone else’s highlight reels.”

Before the age of social media, we enjoyed a psychological distance from self comparison. There were celebrities on TV, and there were our friends, family and coworkers in meatspace. 

Social media narrowed that gap with heavily edited close-ups of those in our circles. It’s not only keeping up with the Kardashians, but also keeping up with your rich friends flying around the world to exotic locations. 

Studies show that we are more likely to compare ourselves to those with a similar background than to celebrities. If you feel poorer because of social media, then you’re not alone. 

Remember the famous finding that people don’t get much happier after $75,000/year? Maybe the reason is that we’ll never stop comparing ourselves to others who have more.

Finally making six figures? Now you’ll compare yourself to millionaire friends.

Just like Bernie Madoff and Rajat Gupta, who chased more money despite already being unimaginably wealthy. 

You don’t have to quit social media or become a Luddite. If you’re going to compare yourself to others, you might as well do it right.

Compare up for inspiration; compare down for appreciation

If I’m feeling down on myself, I think about those who have a lot less than me. There’s the homeless guy I see outside 7-Eleven. The egregious number of prisoners sitting behind bars. When I’m reminded that what I consider a “normal” life is a dream to others, I’m hit with a gratitude bomb.

When comparing up, I try to curate my feed for inspiration. I focus on content using one criteria: helpful over hype

Someone like Ramit Sethi is a multimillionaire, but sends thoughtful tweets about finance. I can do a lot more with that information than doomscrolling through pics of other millionaires throwing yacht parties. 

One study shows that upward comparison is more powerful than downward comparison, so it’s worth taking extra time to curate our social lives. Who’s healthy for my brain to follow? Who should I unfollow?

Using a barbell strategy, we stand to gain by leaning into a productive type of comparison. It’s the middle – unconscious comparison – where misery lives.

100% Swap or Nothing 

The real poison of self comparison is not that other people are better than us. Rather, self comparison distracts from living a life true to ourselves. 

Naval Ravikant made this keen observation:

If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100 percent swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.

I decided to research Dan Bilzerian one more time. 

It looks like his excessive lifestyle might have caught up to him, including lawsuits and potentially mountains of debt.

Am I willing to do a 100% swap with Mr. Bilzerian? 

Naw, I’m good. 

🎬 No More Wings (must watch

There’s this great Youtube channel called Omeloto featuring short, heart-warming movies.

No More Wings is right on theme with this week’s thoughts on self comparison:

Two childhood friends meet up at their favorite wing shop. As they catch up, it becomes apparent that their lives have deeply diverged. One is a struggling creative, and the other is “moving on up” in the traditional sense. 

You can really feel the love and tension. 

🌍 Most Equal & Unequal Countries

Have you heard of the Gini Index? It’s not how many wishes you get; it’s an approximation of the income inequality.

The higher the number, the wider the wealth gap in a given population. 

  • South Africa tops World Bank’s list with having the most income inequality (63.0)
  • Slovenia ranked the least unequal (24.2)
  • Good ‘ol USA landed somewhere in the middle (41.1). 

It’s not surprising that the world’s happiest countries tend to have the least inequality.

💸 Money Tip of the Week: Earn Interest on Crypto

BlockFi must be advertising a lot, because more than a handful of friends this week alone have asked me about this service. Is it true that you can earn upwards of 8% interest on crypto? 

I explain how that all works in this guide: 

How to Earn Interest with Crypto Savings Accounts


  • Yes, you can earn interest in crypto.
  • Yes, you can withdraw that interest back to real dollars.
  • Yes, there is a risk involved with these crypto bank accounts, which are not FDIC-backed. 

Enjoying the newsletter or wanna talk smack? Share it with a friend. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you’re enjoying it.

Should you find anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through you.

Good buy,

P.S. 0% Interest in People

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2 thoughts on “Edition #10: Compare Up for Inspiration, Down for Appreciation”

  1. Hi Oz ,hope your well, I have been reading about Bitcoin , still unsure about investing , we now have a version called Netcoin.ca to weed out confusion but on reviews, pros and cons. What are your thoughts about buying it and have you purchased yourself? Thanks

    1. Hi Sue! I’m not familiar with Canadian exchanges, though I checked out Netcoin.ca and it looks very unprofessional, almost scammy to be honest. I Googled “top Canadian cryptocurrency exchange” and see that https://bitbuy.ca/ looks reputable. Please do your own research and tap your local investment community (find the local tech geek) for tips!

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