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I put together this month’s “Best of ” post a little early and with a few more items than usual to help you start the new year (and decade!) off on the right foot.

We start with news of new legislation out of Washington that will substantially change retirement planning.

Next we explore a few ideas that tend to be front of mind as we celebrate the holiday season and transition to a new year: giving, taxes and getting healthier.

A few articles dive into the math of retirement taxes and market returns, and the results may surprise you. We also test your retirement planning assumptions.

Other articles look at behavioral finance issues. Finally we close out by sharing some big ideas about how the world is changing, and some small ideas to keep your world fun and interesting.

Happy holidays!

SECURE Act

Elizabeth O’Brien writes Congress Just Passed the Biggest Retirement Bill in More Than a Decade. Here’s What You Need to Know

‘Tis the Season

The end of the year is a time that many of us are thinking about giving. . . and taxes.

Christine Benz gives ideas for addressing both at once, writing These Charitable Investment Strategies Deliver a ‘Three-fer’. They provide the satisfaction of giving, a tax benefit and as an added bonus they may improve your portfolio.

Andy Hill gives ideas for How to Make Charitable Giving a Family Tradition.

Jeremy provides A Simple Year-End Tax Checklist from the blog Go Curry Cracker.

Staying Healthy

Health and fitness tend to be front of mind as many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the importance of staying strong and mobile in retirement. I shared that, in theory, I am a proponent of yoga. In practice. . . well I don’t regularly make time to practice yoga. Until this past month when I completed 30 Days of Yoga With Adrienne. It’s free and accessible anywhere through YouTube, most of the videos are 30 minutes or less, and it’s very beginner friendly. This allowed me to overcome the biggest obstacles that have stopped me from practicing yoga regularly in the past. And I feel great! Check it out.

Tim Ferriss interviewed Peter Attia M.D. Check out at least the first 30 minutes of this long and wide ranging conversation. Attia introduces the idea of the ‘Centenarian Olympics.’ It’s a fascinating framework to approach fitness, function and health as you age.

This month I read the outstanding book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare – and How to Fix It by Marty Makary M.D. The book gives great insights on incentives in our medical system to over treat illness, surprise billing and collections practices that can cause financial harm to even those with “good” insurance, and wellness programs gone awry. The lessons in this book will help you to protect your health and wealth.

Before leaving the topic of health, it’s important to remember that health is not entirely under our control. The challenge of finding affordable health insurance is always front of mind for those planning for early retirement. Dan Weissman writes It’s Not Just You: Picking Health Insurance Is Hard. Here’s How To Be Smart About It.

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Charles Schwab’s website provides a list of 7 Faulty Planning Assumptions to Avoid. Everyone’s situation is different, but these are generally good rules to check out and give some thought.

Digging Into the Data

Darrow has been writing for years that taxes should not be a big concern for most retirees. Karsten “Big ERN” Jeske backed that up with detailed analysis when he answered the question How much can we earn in retirement without paying federal income taxes?

I recently wrote about a common fear among readers, investing at the top of a stock market. There are many hypotheses about what is driving returns and how the market is being propped up. Ben Carlson asked Where Have All The Stock Market Returns Come From This Decade? The answers he found may surprise you.

Psychology of Money

I’m fascinated by behavioral finance. Of particular interest to me at this point in life is the challenge of making the transition from saving for retirement to spending those savings.

James Turner writes about The Fear of Spending Money from the perspective of a frugal physician who by all measures is doing quite well.

Another struggle many retirees face that Darrow has written about is finding purpose and meaning in life when your time isn’t dominated by a job. Brad Beckstrom asks Are We Happier When We’re Uncomfortable?

Big (and not so big) Ideas

Retirement planning requires projecting decades into the future, which is impossible to do with any accuracy. Still it is worth thinking about what the biggest drivers of change will be. Morgan Housel does that with Three Big Things: The Most Important Forces Shaping the World.

And for those that would prefer to end on a lighter note, it’s important to remember to live in the moment. At this season of life and season of the year, the easiest place for me to be moment is in the mountains on a powder day. So from Brendan Leonard here are 31 Things Skiing Can Teach Us About Life.

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Valuable Resources

  • Free Travel with credit card travel rewards. Find the best current travel rewards offers. Learn how Chris uses credit card sign up bonuses to get thousands of dollars of free travel every year.
  • The Best Retirement Calculators can help you perform detailed retirement simulations including modeling withdrawal strategies, federal and state income taxes, healthcare expenses, and more. Can I Retire Yet? partners with two of the best.
  • Our Books

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[Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a physical therapist at age 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing and tax planning. Now he draws on his experience to write about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? Chris has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, U.S. News & World Report, and Business Insider. He is also the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. You can reach him at chris@caniretireyet.com.]

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