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Pulling Your Retirement Levers

How does your retirement equation work? When you finally retire, does your financial life go on autopilot, subject to precise mathematical rules? Or, is the retirement equation more a guideline than prescription? So your financial life after retirement is subject to a set of variables, but the end result — exactly how your wealth will …

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Maintaining a Small RV for Retirement Travel

Ten years and almost 90,000 miles. It’s been a decade now since we bought our trusty Pleasure-Way Excel TS Class B RV. Though the original purchase was a leap of faith, it’s turned out to be one of the best we ever made. Our “van,” as we call it, has transitioned with us from our …

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Summer Travels and Travails

Ever since I started writing about retirement 8 years ago, I’ve stressed the importance of being active while you can, to minimize regret. Don’t defer your dreams. Case in point: I had hoped to spend this past summer trekking in the western mountains. But, an injury forced me to cancel my plans. June, July, and …

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Preparing for the Next Recession

A recession is coming. As long as the economy moves in cycles, a recession will always be coming. Right now there is more talk about a downturn than usual. You can’t pick up a newspaper or click on a financial site without finding some discussion of recession indicators and concerns. What should you do? Understand …

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How Much Umbrella Insurance Do You Need?

What does umbrella insurance cover, exactly? Do you really need it? And, if so, how much? I recently reviewed our umbrella insurance policy. I’ve carried it for years, but without really digging into the details of the coverage. It was recommended to me long ago, and appeared to be relatively cheap, so I added it …

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Building Your Retirement Getaway Home on the Cheap

Who doesn’t dream of having their own little getaway home? Maybe it’s a condo in a favorite city. Or a timeshare at a beach or ski resort. Or a cabin in the mountains. Owning a second home has long been a perk of the affluent. With rising standards of living, now more and more people …

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My Biggest Retirement Fear

Last November was a bad month for us. My wife went in for major dental work. We broke an expensive iPhone. My Forester needed two new engine seals. Altogether, the bills amounted to thousands of dollars. So much for our frugal retirement budget that month! Even though we have substantial resources and try to live …

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Budgeting or Expense Tracking: How Much is Enough?

One day in 1991, a package arrived at my doorstep. Inside were thick paperback user manuals, and a shrink-wrapped bundle of floppy disks. I carefully sliced open the shrink wrap and inserted the first disk into my desktop computer. I then typed the letters “Q-U-I-C-K-E-N” at the command prompt, and recorded my first financial transaction. …

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Reasons to Live: Finding Your Purpose after Retirement or Financial Independence

What, exactly, is the point of retirement? With all our focus on the mechanics of saving and investing, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Is financial independence really your goal, or is your ultimate purpose something that lies beyond the dollars, something that wealth enables but doesn’t deliver on its own? In …

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4 Things I Gave Up to Retire Early

Every significant accomplishment in life requires trade-offs. It’s the law of cause and effect. If you want to be an Olympic athlete, you’ll be training while others are relaxing. If you want to be a doctor, you’ll be grinding through medical school and long hours of residency while others are sleeping. If you want to …

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We Finally Get Better Credit Cards

What would you do for an extra $500/year? I’ve written about how much I value my time and often choose financial simplicity over saving a few bucks here and there. For that reason, we’d been using the same 1% cash rewards USAA credit cards for many years. But, given the recent economic stutter, and my …

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My Investment Portfolio: 2019

I can’t predict the future, but 2018 was bad for the markets, and 2019 could be worse. If you’re a seasoned investor, you’ve seen this before.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was in positive territory much of the year, but ended with a blowout. It lost about 3.6%, counting dividends, for 2018.  If you’re new to …

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My Favorite Books and Podcasts: 2018

When we need advice, most of us consult a friend. There is nothing like a personal referral from someone who has “been there/done that,” and has your best interests at heart. So, traditionally, around this time of the year, I’ve written a “Favorites” post like these I did in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. But …

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Getting Higher Returns on Your Cash

“Put your money to work,” my grandmother would advise. Getting the highest possible return on your cash seems to be a mark of honor among frugal prospective retirees. But, with interest rates in the tank for most of a decade, if you haven’t bothered, you also haven’t been hurt much. Now, rates are rising. So, …

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How Accurate Should Your Retirement Calculation Be?

You run out of money. That’s the fundamental event that most retirement calculators try to predict. If there’s a strong probability that your money will last your lifetime — congratulations — you’re financially independent! But, if not, then you need to keep working, or generate retirement income, or curtail your lifestyle. There are many possible …

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Investing in Land

Most financial experts will tell you that investing in land is a bad idea. And they’re probably right. At best, on average, in many cases and places, land will only appreciate at the rate of inflation. And it won’t produce any income while sitting there. Worse still, it will cost you in property taxes every …

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Microadventures Before and After Retirement

Travel, adventure, seeing and being in new places, is the spice of life for many of us. But there is never enough time. In the working years we mostly have to make do with a few weeks of vacation annually. By the time family obligations and house chores are done, there can be precious little …

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Downsizing, 5 Years Later: Any Regrets?

Five years ago this month we downsized for early retirement. With a series of yard sales, charity pickups, and gifts to friends, we reduced the volume of our possessions by about one-half. We then carefully staged our 4-bedroom family home where we’d lived for 17 years and put it on the market with a trusted …

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My Retirement Income Taxes: 2018

A few weeks ago I completed and filed my returns for the 2017 tax year. Once again, without much attention to the matter, I paid very little in taxes. And, once again, despite what many financial professionals will tell you, I didn’t find taxes threatening my retirement lifestyle… I’m proactive about most financial matters. But, …

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Doing Good Better with Your Money

This blog has always focused on saving more, investing smarter, and retiring sooner. It’s about living your financial life efficiently and effectively so that you reach your goals, and reach them sooner. But there is more to life than getting rich. Accumulating assets for their sake alone is a dead end. Having money lets us …

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Debugging Your Retirement Calculations

“When a thing is done and past, even fools are wise at last!” —Homer Hindsight is 20/20. The further you go in life, the easier it is to look back and understand the results of your earlier decisions. Nowhere is this more true than in personal finance. Relatively small changes in your work, your purchases, …

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