Don’t Pull A Reverse Maslow

Warren Buffet talks about moats:

From Investopia: The term economic moat, popularized by Warren Buffett, refers to a business’ ability to maintain competitive advantages over its competitors in order to protect its long-term profits and market share from competing firms. Just like a medieval castle, the moat serves to protect those inside the fortress and their riches from outsiders.

Moats For Life

Now what about creating a moat between you and life?

You can’t protect yourself from everything.

You can have the biggest moat in the world, but a meteor can still destroy everything inside your castle.

You can have perfect nutrition but you can still die of a stroke.

It’s a matter of scope and degree.

Scope: Sure, there are some things you can’t prevent. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prevent anything. A moat might not be able to prevent a meteor, but it’ll prevent an army from matching up to your gates.

Degree: Sure, it’s possible that a meteor can strike. Sure, it’s possible that someone breaks through your moat. But the meteor is extremely unlikely. And it’s beyond the scope of your defenses. But you can prevent a rival army. And the better your moat, the less likely they’ll be able to break through.

Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s probable. And can control the probability of some events.

That’s the realm we’re playing in.

So what to focus on?

Don’t Pull A Reverse Maslow

It’s all about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

You want to worry about and strengthen the bottom of the triangle.

Most people worry about the opposite.

Most people commit what I call a Reverse Maslow. Some examples:

  • Voting on social policy over economic policy.
  • Going into debt to buy a nice car.
  • Going to a foreign country on a Yoga retreat to seek self-actualization and enlightenment without health insurance.

All of these are examples of a Reverse Maslow. They prioritize higher levels of Maslow’s triangle while neglecting the low levels.

A triangle, right side up, is extremely stable. One of the strongest shapes — if not the strongest.

But upside down, it’s extremely unstable.

And so while someone tries to strengthen a higher level, imagine what would happen if unstable shifts took place at the lower levels. The triangle would topple over. And that’s what happens to most people.

So while thinking about all this — moats and Maslow’s hierarchy — I wanted to know what systems I could build and automate that would strengthen the lower levels.

And it’s very simple: health and wealth systems.

Wealth Systems:

  • Short-term security (emergency fund) (6 mo expenses)
  • Long-term security (investing)
    • IRA ($6000 max)
    • 401k ($19,000 max)
    • HSA ($3500 max)

Short Term Financial Security

You want short term financial security. So if something unexpected happens, you can pay for it. Usually 6 months worth of expenses saved up in an easily accessible (liquid) account.

Long Term Financial Security

You also want long term financial stability. But most people don’t think about this until it’s almost too late. As the saying goes: “We are too soon old and too late smart.”

I also don’t think most people understand what retirement accounts do for you. You know you should save. But why? So you have a big pot of gold to pull from?


You want to have a big pot of gold that is INVESTED so that (1) you can live off interest and (2) the pot can continue to grow.

Let’s say you need $50,000 per year to live when you’re retired. That’s what you plan on burning through.

So how can you live off that but still have your pot of money grow?

Well, let’s say that $50,000 is 5% of your pot of gold. That means your pot of gold is $1,000,000.

But if your $1,000,000 is invested in an account that grows at 11% per year, that means your pot of gold can continue to grow at 6% per year.

But when we account for 3% inflation, you can see that your pot of gold still grows at 3% per year.

This is what real retirement looks like:

You can live how you want to live. And you’ll continue to make money.

You just have to decide what you want your lifestyle to be when you retire. Then figure out how big your pot of gold has to be. Then work toward that end.

And how should your money grow? Index funds.

Get a 401k going (from your employer or through your own company). Get an IRA going. Then get an HSA going. And try to max these accounts out each year. If you do that, then your wealth system is in place.

Great books for this:

Health Systems:

  • Nutrition (white protein, diverse viber veggies)
  • Training (cardio, stretching)
  • Insurance (HSA)
  • Checkups (what does insurance cover? Do everything.)

Getting sick is expensive.

Step 1: Try to not get sick.

Do what you can to prevent the preventable.

Eat healthy. Get some clean protein in. And eat some diverse-fiber veggies.

And do all the checkups that your insurance will pay for. Because who knows?

Step 2: Protect yourself if things get sour.

This is just about having good health insurance.

If you’re healthy, then your HSA will grow and grow, so when the time comes, you can use the money to pay for treatments. And the HSA money grows tax free. And you can pull the money out tax free — if it’s used for health stuff.

And if you have good insurance, then they’ll take care of a lot of the expenses too. So when health issues arise, you’re covered from all angles.

If you live through the event: both you and your moat will still be healthy. Nice!

If you don’t life through the event: you won’t be around, but your moat will still be healthy. And at least you won’t leave unpaid bills.


So build your moat. Strengthen the bottom of your triangle. Then you can try to save the seals in Antarctica.

Just don’t pull a Reverse Maslow.

Leave a comment below: Have you ever spotted a Reverse Maslow? Tell me about it below.



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