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Does Owning a Vacation Home Make Sense?

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It was a crisp, cloudless autumn day in 2004. My son and I set off on mountain bikes from a trailhead in rugged north Georgia. We climbed gradually on an abandoned logging road. It led up through beautiful old hardwood forest to near the summit of a stately mountain. We leveled out, then began the descent toward Lake Blue Ridge. We glided downhill on perfect trail, hugging the contours, coasting through the fall leaves.

After a few minutes, we veered across the back of the mountain. Ahead, we spied an odd notch in the slope, cut by heavy equipment. Arriving there shortly, we found ourselves at a cul-de-sac in a new vacation home community: A half-dozen half-million dollar homes were spread across the mountainside, rustic timbers, green lawns, and white driveways beckoning. The houses were furnished, but this was a ghost town: The driveways were empty, the homes were uninhabited….

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The 6 Crucial Questions to Answer Before You Retire

Piggy bank and calculator

Readers and friends often ask me about the retirement decision-making "process." How do you prepare, a year out, 6 months out, 3 months out? Do you need a written plan in advance? What about contingencies? Do you just pull the plug, or is there a … [Continue reading]

Financial Simplicity: What is Your Time Worth?

Zen garden stones

"Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquility…" --Epictetus Money is a stepping stone to more important things. If you're on track to your … [Continue reading]

Shopping Obamacare: Comparing Plans / Awaiting a Verdict

Caduceus symbol as scales

Much of my journey to early retirement was carefully planned. I saved a lot, invested carefully, read extensively. But in one area -- health care -- I was just plain lucky. Health insurance is one of the most critical issues in retirement: To live … [Continue reading]

Financial Freedom on a Shoestring

Old sneakers with laces

I'll admit it. I've led a life of some privilege. Maybe I didn't have it easy. But I didn't have it hard either. Simply by virtue of birth, I inherited most of the essential assets for my journey to financial independence…. No, my parents … [Continue reading]

Roth IRAs and Roth Conversions: Who Needs Them?

Question mark savings

Roth IRAs are the darling of the financial media. Maybe it's because they're relatively newer. Or because the rules have changed, allowing more people to access them now. Or because, in some situations, they can save you more on … [Continue reading]

My Investment Portfolio: 2015

Stock certificates - 3

What makes a successful investor? Is it getting double-digit returns? Beating a certain stock index? Outperforming the market for years, and making millions? Or is it just growing and protecting your wealth well enough to achieve your lifetime goals? … [Continue reading]

My Favorite Personal Finance Blogs: 2014

Magnifier on money

I believe in blogs. In a world where hidden agendas and conflicts of interest abound, personal finance blogs provide some of the most unbiased information available for managing your money wisely. The bulk of my weekly reading comes from blogs, not … [Continue reading]

10 Tips for More Accurate Retirement Calculations

Dart in bullseye

Retirement calculators are not all created equal. And the differences between them are more than just an academic issue. Why? Because you'll be using these tools to make one of the most important decisions of your life. If you're approaching … [Continue reading]

The Best Retirement Calculators

Black calculator

What's so important about retirement calculators? Why are these tools of more than just technical interest? Well, they're important because either you, or a financial planner, will use the results from a retirement calculator to make one of the most … [Continue reading]

Should You Be a Dividend Stock Investor?

Dollars domino

Dividend stock picking is the most compelling investment strategy that I've never tried. I've been tempted several times over the years, including recently when we had some new money to invest. The arguments for holding more dividend-paying … [Continue reading]

Should You Work One More Year?

Strand hill

I'm "retired," but I took this past summer off anyway. I wrote less on the blog. I postponed some personal projects. And, I worked on my bucket list -- doing the things I couldn't do while working full time, while raising a son, while living back … [Continue reading]

Annuity Shopping: Time to Buy a Deferred Income Annuity?

Dollars through hourglass

I want to buy an annuity. As I've written before, they make sense to me, in theory. In practice, I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger…. We received a modest inheritance. It doesn't change our financial picture substantially, but it does … [Continue reading]

The Good News About Retirement

Lake peak

There is no shortage of bad news about retirement: The population is aging. Workers haven't saved enough. Market returns will be lower going forward. Inflation is bound to return. Health care is expensive…. Many of you, even those who are … [Continue reading]

Money News, Calculator Reviews and What You Might Have Missed…

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It's been a good year at CanIRetireYet.com. There are tens of thousands of visitors here every month. This blog is mentioned often in major media, and I frequently turn down opportunities for more publicity. My primary purpose is still to … [Continue reading]

Our Retirement Expenses: Where Does the Money Go?

Dollar bills flying away

What will it cost you to live in retirement? You may be asking this question as you plan your future. You could try to answer it by looking at national statistics on living expenses. The Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor … [Continue reading]

Y2K and Black Swans: Investing for the Next Crisis

Black Swan

It was late 1998 and I had traveled across the country to present at a software conference. In the lobby of the hotel was a group handing out literature on the impending "crisis" that would become known as "Y2K" (Year 2000). I hadn't heard of it, so … [Continue reading]

What Will You Do When You’re Retired?

Looking up RSB

"If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work." --Shakespeare Mention "retirement" at the office. Most people will be conjuring visions of sun-drenched beaches, lush golf courses, soaring mountains, or shimmering … [Continue reading]

Review: The Pralana Retirement Calculator

PRC scenario

The reviews of free retirement calculators here have been some of the most popular posts on the site. There are certainly some useful free calculators available. And since no one calculator has a corner on predicting the future, it's nice to have the … [Continue reading]

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Mountain biker silhouette at sunset

Benjamin Franklin famously noted that "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Death and taxes. Two of our least favorite topics -- also two of the most inevitable. In keeping with the generally upbeat mood … [Continue reading]

My Income Taxes: 2014

Velociraptor

Are taxes going to be your single biggest financial concern in retirement? A ravenous velociraptor stalking your financial security? Many pundits say so. Or, are taxes just another expense, and by no means your largest one? Despite their … [Continue reading]