Harvard expert on the worst thing about New Year’s resolutions

Harvard expert Lisa Lahey’s research is driven by a truly shocking statistic: When doctors inform heart patients they’ll die without changing ingrained habits, only one in seven will successfully change their ways. 

Even against literal life or death, humans have an innate aversion to change — and Lahey, who wrote the book “Immunity to Change,” wants people to understand how that aversion manifests in everyone’s life as they embark on any new goals in 2023. 

“People have a very misguided notion that you can actually change fast. It’s just not true,” Lahey says. “You really need to give yourself more space.” 

In Lahey’s eyes, the worst thing about New Year’s resolutions isn’t the fact that we “fail” to fulfill them. The tragedy, she says, is that all too often we criticize ourselves when we come up short, despite decades of research proving just how resistant to change we are. 

“It’s like people drink the Kool-Aid, [and think] ‘If I really intend to make this goal happen, and I can’t, I’m a loser. There’s something wrong with me,'” she says. “I think it’s just a profound loss of human energy.” 

“So much of that has to do with the fact that people don’t recognize and sufficiently respect that there are powerful forces at play that are [operating] at an unconscious level that make it hard for us to change,” Lahey continues. “There’s nothing shameful about that.” 

Yet none of this is to say that change is impossible. Certain New Year’s resolutions could be easy to stick with, Lahey points out. For example, if someone who never thought about what they ate or how much they exercised finds their metabolism slowing with age, it might not be difficult to start making healthier choices. 

The trouble kicks in when there’s an underlying belief system that we’re not seeing that’s actually blocking us from sticking through with our goal. 

Lahey says if you’ve tried multiple times to change the same behavior and have yet to see it stick, that’s a telltale sign that there’s something else is going on behind the scenes. 

But fear not: With decades of research to back it up, Lahey has developed an entire roadmap on how to identify — and overcome — our “immunity to change.” 

Breaking our resistance to change

Lahey recently walked through what this looks like in practice on a recent episode of bestselling author Brené Brown’s podcast — and it’s an illustrative example of Lahey’s teachings in action. 

The process has four primary steps. First, you have to identify your actual improvement goal, and what you’d need to do differently to achieve it. 

Brown’s goal seemed straightforward: She wanted to be more disciplined in scheduling regular meetings with her team, which she called “mission critical.” 

Next, Lahey says, you need to look at your current behaviors that might run counter to your goal. 

Here, Brown had a whole host of examples: She canceled and rescheduled meetings too often; she removed herself from meetings at the last minute; she overscheduled. 

“But the thing that really got her attention was [when] she said ‘I consistently say ‘yes’ to the one-off [meetings],” Lahey added, which was contributing to Brown’s sense that meetings were a waste of time. 

That kind of insight is critical, Lahey points out, because it’s at this point in the roadmap that people typically think they see what the problem is — only to find themselves tackling a sliver of the real issue at hand. 

“They go at the behavior change at this very concrete, direct level,” she says. “What my work says is, if you can make the change that way, you should do that … but for many people, that doesn’t work, because the behavior is actually serving a really important [competing] goal they have.” 

That leads to step three: identifying your hidden competing commitments. 

“What Brené ended up discovering [in step three] was basically she has a part [of herself] which is very connected to wanting to maintain a kind of vigilance around keeping her creative time,” Lahey says. 

It’s at this point in the roadmap that people can identify a much larger underlying assumption about how the world works that has actually been driving their resistance to change all along. 

For Brown, it was an assumption that meetings were mundane and creativity-sucking. She didn’t want to get dragged down by details — and thus, she bailed out on meetings as a way of preserving her creative time, which she saw as more important. 

Unlearning our assumptions

Lahey says that when she walks people through their own “Immunity to Change” roadmap, the final column is “almost always” unrelated to the column one, much like Brown’s. 

By way of example, she cites a mother whose first column said she wanted to exercise more — while her fourth column was all about the guilt she felt anytime she left her kids. 

Unlearning these kinds of assumptions won’t necessarily happen overnight, Lahey says, but it’s possible to start shifting your mindset by creating “a valid test of your beliefs.” 

That’s going to look slightly different for everyone. For the mother who was worried a more rigorous exercise routine would lead to resentment from her children, that test was simple: She started going on walks while a caregiver looked after her kids. 

When she returned, the kids were fully engaged in their own activities: happy to see her, sure, but completely fine occupying themselves. 

That was all the permission she needed to start taking care of herself in more ways than one, Lahey points out. “She started to feel literally physically better about herself and how she was parenting,” she adds. 

And that’s the key behind all of this work. Everyone will feel a lot better — and potentially stick through with the changes they’ve been trying to make — if they would start by being a lot easier on themselves, Lahey says. 

“The big gift in all of this work, to me, is to provide the possibility that people can feel less shame — and ultimately release the shame they feel from not being able to make change happen — because they’ve been using the wrong model, the wrong tool,” she says. “It would just never work, so you can release that.” 

“There’s just so much commonality because fundamentally we are human,” she adds. “We are all in this big boat together.” 

Want to earn more and work less? Register for the free CNBC Make It: Your Money virtual event on Dec. 13 at 12 p.m. ET to learn from money masters like Kevin O’Leary how you can increase your earning power.

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5 tax, investment changes that could boost your finances in 2023

1. Bigger contribution limits on retirement accounts

But without a reminder from an advisor or your 401(k) plan provider, these increases “might go undetected,” he said. 

The contribution limits have also increased for IRAs, allowing you to save up to $6,500 for 2023, up from $6,000 in 2022. While the catch-up deposit remains at $1,000 for 2023, it will index to inflation starting in 2024.

2. Tax savings with inflation-adjusted brackets

The standard deduction also increases in 2023, rising to $27,700 for married couples filing jointly, up from $25,900 in 2022. Single filers may claim $13,850 in 2023, a jump from $12,950.

3. Higher threshold for 0% long-term capital gains

With higher standard deductions and income thresholds for long-term capital gains in 2023, you’re more likely to fall into the 0% bracket, Lucas said. 

For 2023, you may qualify for the 0% rate with taxable income of $44,625 or less for single filers and $89,250 or less for married couples filing together.

4. Higher income limit for Roth IRA contributions

From quiet quitting to loud layoffs: Here are the career trends that generated buzz in 2022

More Americans may be eligible in 2023 because the adjusted gross income phaseout range rises to between $138,000 and $153,000 for single filers and $218,000 and $228,000 for married couples filing jointly.

While some investors may seek “complicated” moves, like so-called backdoor Roth conversions, which transfer after-tax 401(k) contributions to a Roth IRA, Pon urges investors to double-check Roth IRA contribution eligibility first. 

5. More time for required minimum distributions

Land & Buildings spots a chance to build value in a real estate play with Six Flags

Customers are socially distanced on rides like the Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.

Kenneth Kiesnoski/CNBC

Company: Six Flags Entertainment (SIX)

Activist: Land & Buildings Investment Management

Percentage Ownership: about 3.0%

Average Cost: n/a

Activist Commentary: Land & Buildings is a real estate focused long-short hedge fund that will try to engage with management on a friendly basis when it sees deep value. It invests in deeply discounted real estate in the public markets and select corporate engagements. The firm’s positions are often under the 5% 13D reporting threshold. It’s prepared to nominate directors and has received board seats at American Campus Communities, Brookdale Senior Living, Felcor Lodging Trust, Life Storage, Macerich, Mack-Cali (now Veris Residential) and Taubman Centers.

What’s Happening?

Behind the Scenes

Land & Buildings (“L&B”) is a real estate focused investor, and this is primarily a real estate play. The firm is suggesting that Six Flags separate its real estate holdings, which L&B believes are worth more than the current enterprise value of the company. L&B has extensive knowledge and experience in this area. In 2015, the hedge fund commenced an activist campaign at MGM Resorts International, which ultimately led to the formation of an MGM real estate investment trust acquired by VICI Properties and significant margin enhancement at the operating company. Recent private transaction comps for gaming real estate, as well as public gaming REIT valuations, point to a 6% to 7% cap rate and mid-teens multiple for assets like theme parks. L&B believes there would be many interested acquirers.

In its analysis, L&B assumes a 7.25% cap rate and a $2.8 billion value for the real estate. A sale-leaseback of the real estate could decrease earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization from $520 million to $315 million and assuming a 7x EBITDA multiple (SIX’s current multiple is 8x), the operating company would have a $2.2 billion enterprise value. With $2.8 billion in cash and $2.4 billion in debt, that would equate to a $2.6 billion asset value or market cap. With 83 million shares outstanding, that would equal a $31.32 share price, or a 34% upside to Six Flags’ current stock price (47% upside from the company’s unaffected stock price prior to the L&B plan being made public). L&B performed the same analysis on 2024/2025 EBITDA goals, which led to a $6.8 billion value and a 150% upside. Moreover, the hedge fund’s analysis assumes the $2.8 billion stays on the company’s balance sheet. If it is used to buy back shares around where they are trading now,, the return would even be greater.

L&B believes that a sale of Six Flags’ real estate would allow the company to increase share buybacks, reinstate its dividend (which was eliminated at the beginning of the Covid pandemic) and pay down debt. Moreover, this is a shareholder base with many like-minded investors (HG Vora, H Partners, Long Pond Capital) and a relatively new CEO (November 2021) who may be amenable to a plan like this.  

Getting a plan like this done would give the CEO a lot of time and capital (both real and figurative) to do what really needs to be done – fix the operational issues. When Selim Bassoul was appointed as Six Flags’ CEO in November 2021, he embarked on a strategy of trying to enhance the guest experience and create a more profitable, higher margin business by migrating to a more affluent, family-oriented customer base. This new strategy, which included getting rid of several customer perks, led to a significant drop in attendance, alienation of many current customers and subsequent price underperformance to peers. However, the jury is still out on whether it is working. If it results in a higher attendance at higher prices in 2023, then it worked and nothing will need to be done operationally. However, if attendance continues to lag through 2023, Bassoul may have to start giving back many of the perks he had taken away, such as modified dining passes. He may even have to consider lowering prices to their prior levels. Without stabilizing operations, the real estate strategy can only create so much shareholder value. However, optimizing attendance and stabilizing operations will magnify any value created by the real estate strategy.

We would expect that Land & Buildings would want to have some sort of board representation to help with this strategy. Frankly, Six Flags should want the firm’s help if they choose to monetize the real estate. So, it would not be surprising to see an amicable settlement for a board seat or two. However, the director nomination window is between Jan. 11, 2023 and Feb. 10, 2023. If there is no settlement by then, L&B is almost certain to nominate directors, even if it is just to preserve the firm’s rights while it continues to talk with management. Should this go to a proxy fight, the like-minded investors mentioned above — H Partners (13.5%), HG Vora (4.2%) and Long Pond Capital (5.7%) — could be potential supporters of L&B.

Ken Squire is the founder and president of 13D Monitor, an institutional research service on shareholder activism, and he is the founder and portfolio manager of the 13D Activist Fund, a mutual fund that invests in a portfolio of activist 13D investments. Squire is also the creator of the AESG™ investment category, an activist investment style focused on improving ESG practices of portfolio companies. 

Mark Cuban on the habit all 30-somethings need to succeed

If you can’t come up with a New Year’s resolution, Mark Cuban has you covered.

On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks owner told Bill Maher on the “Club Random” podcast that everyone over 30 should be reading every day. Otherwise, they’re limiting themselves and their career, he said.

“Somebody 40 and over, even 30 and over, if you’re not reading, you’re f—ed… because you’re not expanding your mind,” Cuban said. “I tell my kids… ‘Somebody who doesn’t read lives one life, somebody who reads an unlimited number of lives.'”

Turns out, Cuban is onto something. A 2016 study conducted by Yale University School of Public Health researchers found reading 30 minutes a day helped participants 50 and older live on average two years longer than their non-reading counterparts, regardless of health, wealth, gender and education.

Cuban himself is an active reader. In 2018, he told CNBC Make It he reads four to five hours per day studying national and local news, emails and technology research.

And seems Cuban’s two older daughters picked up his affinity for reading — or at least were bribed into it. When they were younger, both girls would be rewarded with “shoes or whatever they wanted” after they read a certain number of pages, Cuban said. Then, the family could have conversations about what they read.

But Cuban said he had to adopt a different strategy for his son, now 13, who doesn’t like to read. Cuban was worried his son’s ambivalence toward books would “hurt him long term” — until he realized his son was learning in different ways.

“They consume a lot of information [online],” Cuban said. “The challenge wasn’t so much, are they learning? …The challenge for me was understanding how they learn.”

After noticing his son was picking up business concepts like gross margins and royalties from watching YouTube and TikTok videos, Cuban realized the platforms could act as parenting tools.

“[Tiktok] is the best parental tool in the world because… [it’s] artificial intelligence based off of what you watch,” Cuban said on the podcast. “So, if I want to know what my kids are into, I just look at their TikTok feeds.”

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4 best success tips CEOs shared this year—from Tim Cook to Beth Ford

Every year, there’s no shortage of valuable nuggets of wisdom shared by inspiring and influential leaders. 

For all its ups and downs, 2022 was no different. Here are some of the best success tips that top CEOs shared this year.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

For someone tasked with doling out a steady supply of business tips and leadership advice, some of Cook’s best advice of 2022 ultimately came from a commencement speech delivered at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where the entire student body is either deaf or hard of hearing. 

In a speech translated into American Sign Language, Cook encouraged the graduating students to pursue a single decision-making tactic: Follow your own moral compass above all else. 

It was this tactic, Cook said, that would lead to the most professional and personal success, adding it was a “sense of meaning” that drew him to Apple back in 1988.

“I know in my heart: Staying true to who you are and what you believe is one of the most important choices you can make. It will help you form better relationships. It will help you find more satisfaction in your work. And with a little luck and a lot of effort, it will help you build a more meaningful life.”

Cook also shared one of the easiest ways to identify your own moral code, which will help you develop “a deep understanding of who you are and what you believe.” Picture an uncertain situation, and envision how you’d respond in a fully ideal world.

“When you imagine your future … the question you should ask is not, ‘What will happen?’ but ‘Who will I be when it does?’ I hope you will be kind and compassionate … I hope you will see there is wonder in being part of something bigger than yourself. And magic to be found in the service of others.”

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America CEO

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of Feeding America, knows the importance of giving back. While leading the largest hunger-relief organization in America, Babineaux-Fontenot has constantly been on the lookout for career advice that focuses on building a fulfilling life and career. 

Back in March, Babineaux-Fontenot spoke with CNBC Make It about the best career advice she ever received — and it wasn’t even directly shared with her.

Instead, it came from a 1970s essay: “The Servant as a Leader” by Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT&T executive. In it, Greenleaf outlined a model for leadership that prioritized serving other people first. 

Babineaux-Fontenot’s main epiphany?

“Always assume good intentions of your co-workers, that people want to work together to do good.”

There’s research to back up her takeaway. Assuming good intentions in others likely corresponds with reality: Research from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania found that people routinely underestimate how much others like them — and it can have a significant impact on workplace success. 

Babineaux-Fontenot, for her part, says assuming the best in others has been nothing short of “transformative” in her own life and career.

“Now, I try to understand to the extent that I can how people are wired, then help to create environments where, however they define winning, we can win together — and we should all try to do that.”

Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines CEO

Throughout the course of the pandemic, air travel has been at the forefront of Covid-era challenges — from flight cancellations to staffing shortages to increasing aggression from customers. 

It makes sense, then, that Delta CEO Ed Bastian would have a unique vantage point on effective leadership during disruptions, upheaval and general uncertainty. 

At the start of 2022, Bastian sat down with Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius for a conversation about leading during a crisis, where he stressed the importance of staying close to your team throughout challenging times.

It’s easy when times are difficult to want to shy away when you don’t have the answers to the questions that you need. It’s never more important to be visible and let people know what you know and what you don’t know.

Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes CEO

Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford is no stranger to success. 

Following leadership positions everywhere from PepsiCo to Scholastic, Ford’s climb up the corporate ladder at Land O’Lakes has been peppered with milestones: Ford is Land O’Lakes’ first female CEO in its over 100-year history, as well as the first openly gay woman to be a Fortune 500 CEO. 

Yet for all her accolades, Ford told CNBC Make It the best career advice she ever received came from a conversation with her mom when Ford was just 11 years old. 

Ford was “throwing a tantrum” about a problem she assumed her mother understood. Yet, as the middle child of seven siblings, Ford’s concerns had been lost in the fray.

“So my mother turned to me and said, ‘If you want something, you should ask for it; I’m not a mind reader’ … and I remember that moment so clearly.”

For Ford, the moment confirmed the importance of advocating for your own needs, which she still considers a crucial skill when building a career.

“Often, we think, ‘Nobody is going to see the good job I’ve done,’ or we’re scared to ask for help. Yet, if you do ask someone for help, or ask for what you want, people will reach out and give it to you.”

Parenting expert: The No. 1 thing every parent should teach their kids

Dating ‘red flags’, according users on Tinder, Hinge

If you’ve been swiping on the dating apps recently, you’ve probably noticed that the bios of your potential matches are littered with the red flag emoji – this year it was one of the most frequently used emoji in Tinder bios, according to the app’s data. 

Some red flags are pretty specific to the person (think: “don’t love dogs!”) but others are commonly held.

And all of them can thwart your attempt at a long-term partnership — something many singles expressed wanting this year — before it even begins.

In 2022, 50% of singles said they would’ve been happier over the last year if they’d been in a relationship. In 2021, 35% had the same response. 

Here are four red flags that might cost you a potential match, according to dating app data.

Getting drunk on a first date

Being ‘too into’ Instagram 

Those who are “too into” Instagram or Snapchat come off as self absorbed, according to Hinge users.

That’s why 74% of said don’t want to date someone who is constantly using social networking apps. 

While on a date, it’s probably best to keep the phone face down. 

Not knowing about politics or social issues 

Bringing up trauma 

29-year-old pays $1,000/month for a 3-bedroom apartment in Puerto Rico

Months into their hunt for an apartment in San Juan, Valentina Valldejuli and her partner, Rafael, pivoted from searching local real estate websites to browsing Facebook Marketplace.

Valldejuli was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has lived her entire life in San Juan.

The 29-year-old “Modo de Vida” art director, told CNBC Make It that it was essential to find a two-bedroom in the city to be close to her family.

“I love that anywhere you’re on the island, you have the beach nearby. I live in this center of an area, but I can just take a ten-minute drive and get to the beach here in Ocean Park in San Juan,” she says.

Hato Rey is the financial district in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

CNBC Make it

In October 2020, the couple found a Facebook Marketplace listing for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, for $1,000 a month.

Valldejuli says that because the hurricane season in Puerto Rico is only getting worse as the years go by, the most important thing for them was that the apartment has what they call “tormenteras,” or storm shutters, and for the building to have a backup generator, too.

“The moment we saw this apartment, we just fell in love,” Valldejuli says.

She added that although the rent for the apartment was only $1,000 a month, there was a catch: it didn’t come with a refrigerator or an oven.

The kitchen didn’t come equipped with an oven or a refrigerator, but the couple were willing to compromise and buy the appliances themselves.

CNBC Make It

After getting approved for the apartment, the couple paid a $1,000 security deposit, the first month’s rent, and about $1,200 for a refrigerator and $600 for an oven.

“We were willing to compromise to get those appliances because we love the space so much. We had already seen four different places, and it was very difficult to get a place this big and [in that] price range,” Valldejuli says.

The couple put the three bedrooms to good use by making one their primary bedroom, turning the second into Rafael’s office and music studio, and using the third as Valldejuli’s home office.

Valldejuli describes their decor as a mix of boho with a mid-century vibe and a bit eclectic.

CNBC Make It

“I’m a photographer and a graphic designer, and I wanted to explore what interior design would look like from a perspective of a photographer and a graphic designer,” Valldejuli says.

The art director describes their apartment decor as a mix of boho with a mid-century vibe and a bit eclectic.

The couple doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon

Most and least expensive U.S. cities for New Year’s Eve

Watching the ball drop from the comfort of your home is a common, cost-effective way to ring in the new year. But plenty of Americans instead choose to get dressed up, attend parties or travel in celebration of New Year’s Eve.

You might call New York City the New Year’s capital, given the main American symbol of the holiday — the Times Square Ball — lives and drops there. So it’s probably no surprise the Big Apple ranks first on WalletHub’s survey of the best cities for New Year’s:

  1. New York
  2. Orlando, Fla.
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Francisco
  5. Atlanta
  6. Denver
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Chicago
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Seattle

WalletHub ranked the largest 100 cities based on a number of factors, including number of events, availability of fireworks, music venues and estimated costs. 

The majority of Americans (70%) plan to spend at least $50 on their New Year’s Eve plans, WalletHub found. But those looking to spend the holiday in one of the three largest cities — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — can expect to pay an average $865 for dinner and a show for two. 

Still, Irvine, California, beats those cities as the most expensive place to spend New Year’s Eve:

  1. Irvine, Calif.
  2. Miami
  3. New York
  4. Honolulu
  5. New Orleans
  6. Seattle
  7. Oakland, Calif.
  8. San Francisco
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Henderson, Nev.

The survey found over 80 million Americans are planning to travel for New Year’s Eve, with nearly half expecting to drive.

Budget-conscious partygoers may be headed to one of the least expensive cities to celebrate, led by El Paso, Texas:

  1. El Paso, Texas
  2. Tulsa, Okla.
  3. Durham, N.C.
  4. Plano, Texas
  5. Stockton, Calif.
  6. Glendale, Ariz.
  7. Lubbock, Texas
  8. Memphis, Tenn.
  9. Gilbert, Ariz.
  10. Chandler, Ariz.

While several of the best-rated cities also find themselves on the most expensive list, the least expensive cities aren’t inherently less fun. El Paso, for example, ranks 19th in the overall rankings.

Regardless of where you’re ringing in the New Year, plan to do it safely. New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year with a 116% increase in drunk driving-related deaths, according to MoneyGeek. An Uber ride home might hurt your budget, but it could also save a life. 

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FTX Japan users will be able to start withdrawing funds from February

The FTX logo on a laptop screen.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Japanese FTX users will be able to start moving their funds out of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange starting in February, according to a statement from the company’s Japan subsidiary.

FTX Japan said Thursday it was developing a system to resume withdrawals through the website of Liquid Japan, a crypto exchange it acquired earlier this year. Customers will be able to view their balance on Liquid Japan, and then take out their funds.

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“We deeply apologize for causing great concern and inconvenience to our customers due to the long-term suspension of the service,” the company said in a Japanese language blogpost on its website, which was translated via Google.

FTX Japan laid out a timeline for the restoration of customer funds, starting with opening of a Liquid Japan account in mid-January, and then transferring assets from FTX Japan to Liquid Japan and reopening withdrawals by mid-February.

FTX's collapse is shaking crypto to its core. The pain may not be over

It comes after FTX Japan said on Dec. 1 that it had confirmed with lawyers for the FTX Group that “Japanese customer cash and crypto currency should not be part of FTX Japan’s estate given how these assets are held and property interests under Japanese law.”

The news offers some relief for FTX customers. Clients of FTX worldwide have been unable to get access to their money since the company entered bankruptcy last month and placed a block on withdrawals. FTX’s new caretaker chief, John J. Ray III, has said the company’s international customers should expect to get less from the bankruptcy court than U.S. customers.

Founded in 2014, Liquid was acquired by FTX in February for an undisclosed sum as part of its expansion into East Asia. Prior to that, it had been hacked for more than $90 million worth of crypto in a major cyberattack. Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, which had styled itself as a savior of beleaguered crypto firms, then provided Liquid with $120 million of debt financing.

Separately on Thursday, the Securities Commission of The Bahamas said it had seized $3.5 billion worth of crypto assets from FTX “for safekeeping” and was awaiting direction from the country’s Supreme Court to return the funds to customers and creditors, or to liquidators.

28-year-old ex-stock trader and self-made millionaire’s best money lessons for 2023

It’s hard for Lauren Simmons to answer the question: “What do you do for a living?” Between clinching speaking engagements, brand partnerships, TV appearances, a book deal and executive producing a movie about her life on Wall Street, Simmons’s expertise spans far and wide.

And thanks to that business prowess, along with a dogged work ethic and some savvy money moves, in 2022 the 28-year-old continued to build her financial empire and hit her goal to earn $1 million within a year.

It’s a major milestone for the ex-New York Stock Exchange equity trader, who at 22 years old became the youngest and only second Black woman to trade on the floor — and was severely underpaid while doing it, earning just $12,000 a year while male colleagues made ten times as much.

Fresh off the accomplishment of buying her first home in the Los Angeles area, CNBC Make It caught up with Simmons for the best work and money lessons she learned this year, and some advice to those worried about a bumpy financial outlook ahead:

On being intentional with your work and money

Americans have been hit hard all year by sky-high inflation, rising interesting rates, a volatile stock market and supply chain issues that continue to throw the supply-demand cycle out of whack. Looking ahead to 2023, Simmons says she’s reassessing her risk tolerance and urging caution against uncertainty.

It comes down to being intentional with how you spend your money, she says. For example, she’s looked to Treasury securities, which are backed by the government, as a safer vehicle to park cash. While they may not have major return potential like investing in the market, U.S. Treasury yields are on the rise (the 2-year Treasury sits at 4.391%) as investors seek greater stability in 2023.

Other lessons Simmons is keeping top of mind in the new year: Don’t make impulsive decisions with your career, like quitting your job without another one lined up. And continue to work on your side hustles, whether to supplement your income or replace it if need be.

On staying out of the crypto game

On thinking outside the box with investing

Each person will invest differently depending on their income bracket and means, but one universal lesson is that “diversifying your portfolio really is the name of the game, and diversifying your portfolio is not just investing in the stock market,” Simmons says, pointing to alternative assets like investing in real estate and fine arts (even owning fractional shares of works).

When it comes to investing, “I’m a big proponent of developing a relationship with yourself and understanding what your likes and your dislikes are, and understanding what you’re absolutely not going to tolerate,” Simmons says. That understanding helped her stand firm in her belief to stay away from crypto, “even when there were millions of people saying otherwise. And at the end of the day, you have to understand where you are willing to compromise on things.”

With all that said, she’s not against learning more about crypto and other financial trends that crop up, as long as she measures them against her core values: “You definitely should continue to grow and learn.”

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