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We’re in the home stretch. 2020 is coming to a close! I don’t know anyone that isn’t ready to flip the calendar and start a new year. Before we do, it’s worth taking time to reflect on a few things.

The Best

This was a pretty average year for the stock market if you only looked at the starting and ending points. But in between, a whole lot happened! We have some thought provoking resources that examine those things and what we can learn from them.

Often perception and reality are not the same. This month’s selections look at the reality of FIRE, Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week, personal finance gurus, “making it” as a real estate investor, and remote work arrangements. We also get down to basics to help you do better with tax planning and charitable giving.

Finally, I’ll end the year with some optimism and a special offer from me to you.

An Extraordinarily Ordinary Year

Jonathan Clements shares Twenty 2020 Lessons.

Tyler at Portfolio Charts explains The Fastest Way to Lose Money in 2020.

Many experts have proclaimed the death of the popular 60/40 portfolio. 2020 showed that reports of the demise of this portfolio have been greatly exaggerated. Gregor Stuart Hunter writes The 60/40 Portfolio Is Muzzling Critics With Another Big Year.

Perception vs. Reality

In an effort to help others learn from my successes and failures, I’m as transparent as possible in my writing shy of sharing my social security number, mother’s maiden name, and the street I grew up on. So it is frustrating that people still take time out of their day to leave comments like this one I received just this month.

J.D. Roth addresses this and many other Myths and misconceptions about financial independence and early retirement.

Jeff Haden wrote Tim Ferriss Is No Longer Living the Tim Ferriss Lifestyle. Neither Should You

Many people start off enamored by the idea of early retirement or literally working four hour work weeks, as popularized in the title of Ferriss’ first book, in order to escape the hamster wheel it feels like we’re running on.

Once we apply these principles and have the mental space to ask bigger and better questions, we start looking for purpose and meaning in life. Many of us find that purpose and meaning by working hard at things that matter to us. 

Not meeting others’ expectations of retirement or working more than four hours a week does not invalidate the principles of the FIRE movement or The 4 Hour Work Week. Instead it does exactly the opposite.

The biggest benefit of going down these paths is being able to choose what you want to do with your life. You don’t have to follow any predetermined path, including the one you started down, if you decide to try something different.

Another Dose of Reality

One reason people should legitimately be skeptical of personal finance “experts” is that many are not transparent and they often don’t follow their own advice as Nick Maggiulli points out, writing Rich As I Say, Not As I Do.

Chad Carson is my go to source for real estate investing information, because I know he practices what he preaches. He writes Why The Massive Real Estate Empire You Think You Want Won’t Give You the Life You Imagine.

One thing I’ve been completely transparent about is the fact that while I’ve left my career as a physical therapist, my wife continues to work remotely. This arrangement has many benefits, but also presents challenges. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner sums them up well writing 7 Myths About Work From Home Jobs & What It’s Really Like.

Tax Planning (And A Time To Ignore It)

Mike Piper explains the importance of knowing Marginal Tax Rate or Effective Tax Rate? This is a vital topic to understand before doing any tax planning.

Simple planning to legally reduce taxes is one of my favorite topics. I’ve written about tax planning for early retirement and the amazing tax benefits of semi-retirement

One time I totally ignore taxes is when doing my favorite method of charitable giving. Christine Benz and Susan Dziubinski make a compelling argument why you should do the same. Why You Should Consider Direct Giving.

Ending on a Positive Note

Three years ago, I introduced myself on this blog with an article titled Hello, I’m Not Mr. Money Mustache. Despite using his name in that click-bait title to draw in readers, there is a lot I admire about him.

Among those things are his masterful use of language, relentless optimism, and charitable spirit. All three were on full display when he wrote Poisoned Just Enough: Why I’m So Optimistic About 2021.

Often overlooked in all the chaos and negative news in 2020 was one of the great achievements in modern human history. Jim Dahle was one of the first beneficiaries as he shared, writing COVID Vaccines and Gratitude.

Getting Back On the Road

With the first round of vaccines already underway, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to safely return to a more normal travel schedule next year. With plans still uncertain, I’m looking to build up a diverse bank of travel credit card rewards.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is my absolute favorite travel rewards credit card for the generous and flexible travel rewards it provides. You can currently earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 with the card in the first three months after opening. Those points are worth a bare minimum of $600 if used to pay for any purchase made on the card. They are worth $750 when redeemed directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards® to book travel. The points can be potentially worth substantially more if redeemed by transferring them to one of the many travel partners including Southwest Airlines or Hyatt Hotels. The card has a $95 annual fee.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card recently increased their sign up bonus. You earn a bonus of 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on the card within 3 months of opening the account, equal to $600 in travel credits. I’ve used these flexible points in the past to pay for travel related expenses including rental cars, AirB&B rentals, and hotels or flights when I didn’t have enough hotel points or airline miles for my desired travel. This card also has a $95 annual fee.

Let’s Talk

I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with a number of blog readers in October and November. After taking a break from doing this in December, I’d like to meet more of you next year. I’ve blocked off an hour a week on Monday afternoons in January to meet with one blog reader (or couple) online to discuss anything you would like to help you on your journey to financial independence. Remember, I can not offer any specific investment or tax planning advice. 

If you’d like to chat, and are available on Mondays from 4-5 PM Mountain time, grab one of the January slots on my calendar

I look forward to meeting a few more of you next month. To everyone reading this, best wishes for a great year ahead!

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Valuable Resources

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  • 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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