February 2024 Best of the Web

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This month’s resources explore the benefits of utilizing tax-deferred accounts as well as the potential upsides and challenges of later converting to Roth.

Online retirement resources

Resources will challenge you to think about aging well at the individual and societal level. I also have an interesting take on the challenging marketplace for homeowner insurance.

I’ll share a few interesting early retirement case studies. Finally, I close out with some interesting offers from blog partners. Read to the end to learn about big changes to expect with the blog in the upcoming year.

The Benefits of Tax-Deferred Accounts

Roth IRA and more recently Roth 401(k) accounts have become popular. Jonathan Clements shares four benefits of tax-deferred accounts that are often overlooked, writing Called to Account.

There are also good arguments for using Roth accounts. I explain them here.

The most common argument I hear in favor of Roth accounts is also the weakest: an assured declaration that your taxes will be higher in the future. In a Valentine’s Day post, Sean Mullaney laid out a powerful counterargument to this assertion based on recent history. Mullaney “hopes your valentine loves you as much as Congress loves retirees.”

Roth Conversions

Converting tax-deferred accounts to Roth is an option in lower income years. Olivia Lima writes Timing a Roth Conversion to Supercharge Your Retirement.

For those of you waiting until the end of the year to do Roth conversions, Laura Saunders shares how it is possible to overpay your taxes and simultaneously have an underpayment penalty and what you can do about it. She writes Your Questions on Paying Estimated Taxes, Answered. (This one is from the WSJ so it may be behind a paywall for some of you. Sorry!)

Allan Roth dives into the details of The Law and Strategies to Convert a College 529 to a Roth.

Thinking About Aging Well – Individuals

These “Best of” posts are popular because I curate and share often quick hitting articles, blog posts, or deals that pack a lot of information that can be consumed quickly in the course of a busy life.

The next two resources are a long-form podcast conversation and a book. I encourage every member of this audience to consider making the time for them. 

Peter Attia interviewed Walter Green about The impact of gratitude, serving others, embracing mortality, and living intentionally. I hope this interview challenge you to think differently and create your own conversations about living a good life and aging well. It certainly has for me and the family and friends with whom I’ve shared it.

Thinking About Aging Well – Societally

Atul Gawande wrote the book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. This resource addresses how we think about aging and death at a societal level. 

My hope is that Gawande’s different perspectives as historian and practicing physician mixed with his personal experiences helping his father through physical decline and end of life will lead to a greater understanding of the challenges of aging and navigating our medical system that all of us will face. 

This isn’t a pleasant topic to think and talk about. Unfortunately, the results of not thinking and talking about it are even more unpleasant.

The Challenges of Insuring Homes

Blair duQuesnay asks Should You Self Insure Your Home? The premise of this question would seem absurd just a few years ago. But as premiums climb rapidly, especially in fire and storm prone locations, this is a question many of us may be asking in future months and years.

Retirement Case Studies 

When I share case studies on the blog, they are always popular with readers. So I think you’ll find these next two posts by retirees interesting.

Robert at the blog Stop Ironing Shirts ponders Tax Decisions in Early Retirement.

Tom Short reflects on he and his wife’s first year of retirement, writing Our Freshman Year.

Pralana 2024 Gold Has Been Released

Long-time blog affiliate Pralana recently released the 2024 version of the Excel-based Pralana Gold. Significant updates include incorporating 2024 tax and IRMAA tables and improvements in Roth conversion analysis.

Also of note, Pralana Online is slated for a March release. The new version of this powerful retirement planning tool will maintain virtually all of the Excel-based version’s functionality with a more user-friendly interface and the ability to update the program without downloading a new version.

New Voices and Perspectives on the Blog

There are two big changes you will be seeing on the blog over the next few months. I want to take a minute to share them with you.

Welcome Aboard David Champion

Over the past few months, I have been featuring guest posts from David Champion. Dave is a long-time blog reader and early retired software engineer. Several years into his early retirement, he is looking to pay forward some of his good fortune. He responded to my call for help on the blog.

I’m excited to report that Dave will be working with me consistently moving forward. In addition to getting an outstanding writing partner, I’m excited to have someone far more qualified than me to work on the behind the scenes aspects of the website. 

As had been the case with Darrow and I, this is a passion project for Dave. He is a dedicated rock climber. Change will be slow while he is traveling over the summer months. Our goal is for the site to get a much needed facelift, improve website navigation, and cut back on ads to improve reader experience by the end of this year.

Increasing the Synergy with Abundo Wealth

This isn’t the only change. Last year at this time I reported that I was starting to do part-time financial planning work with Abundo Wealth. At the time, I honestly wasn’t sure how I would like working for someone else again or how willing they would be to put up with me wanting to work very limited hours.

As I start my second year with Abundo, I could not be more excited about this company and the work that we’re doing. We have an amazing (and growing) collection of talented individuals who work together towards the goal of revolutionizing how financial planning is done. We’re expanding the reach to populations who couldn’t previously afford quality financial advice or who realize paying 1% of their investment accounts to an advisor every year doesn’t make sense.

Starting in March, I will also be publishing regular blog posts from different members of the Abundo team. This will provide unique perspectives and insights to you, exposure for Abundo, and reduce my writing workload which frees up my time and energy for these other projects.

Onward and upward!

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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. After achieving financial independence, Chris began writing about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? He is also the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. Chris also does financial planning with individuals and couples at Abundo Wealth, a low-cost, advice-only financial planning firm with the mission of making quality financial advice available to populations for whom it was previously inaccessible. Chris has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, U.S. News & World Report, and Business Insider. He has spoken at events including the Bogleheads and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants annual conferences. Blog inquiries can be sent to chris@caniretireyet.com. Financial planning inquiries can be sent to chris@abundowealth.com]

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Disclosure: Can I Retire Yet? has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Can I Retire Yet? and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. The site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Other links on this site, like the Amazon, NewRetirement, Pralana, and Personal Capital links are also affiliate links. As an affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on one of these links and buy from the affiliated company, then we receive some compensation. The income helps to keep this blog going. Affiliate links do not increase your cost, and we only use them for products or services that we're familiar with and that we feel may deliver value to you. By contrast, we have limited control over most of the display ads on this site. Though we do attempt to block objectionable content. Buyer beware.


  1. Hi Chris,

    While I enjoy reading most of these columns, I also find myself wondering what happened to your early retirement? Shortly after I retired at age 58, and a short stint with a part-time job, I added another 4-letter word that starts with a “W”, to the list of 4-letter words that I don’t normally use. You seem to have retired young and now have reverted back to that dreaded word. What gives? Maybe brainwashed? Or hypnotized? Or did you lose a bet?

    Seriously, my only regret with retiring at 58 was why I didn’t do it earlier? After 10 years of arranging my own schedule, my days are busy enough. Between the gym, bowling, cards, trying to keep up with the grandkids, etc, I have to turn down requests to do other activities.

    As I’m typing this, my initial thoughts of trying to be funny and inquisitive has turned into a slight feeling of sorrow for you. I know I’ll probably get some response of “I love this new avenue of W*** and helping people” but the fact remains that you’ve given up some of your independence and freedom of choice and are again answering to other’s demands.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.



    1. Hey Joey,

      I think that’s a fair question.

      I left my career as a physical therapist at 41 years of age and with a then just turned 5 y/o child. So our situations are quite different. Even in your case, you will, God willing, have to support a long period of retirement with a lot of uncertainty. In my case, I may have to support two consecutive traditional 30 year retirement time horizons. And I’m married, so even if only one of us live a long life, there is still a huge longevity risk. So we have always had some degree of work in our plans.

      Also, you mention having grandkids. Our child is still in elementary school. We pondered home schooling to have more freedom, but she is absolutely thriving in a traditional school environment. In our trial of home school during the pandemic…. not so much. 😉 So her school and extracurriculars infringe on my freedom far more than any work that I’m doing.

      So we’ve built a lifestyle that provides a ton of freedom based on those constraints. We moved to the mountains, so we can get out and adventure daily. Both of us work part-time, fully remote, with a ton of autonomy and control over our schedules. We read a lot more than we used to, have been developing deeper friendships, and are super involved parents. But for me, something was missing without working directly with people on a regular basis after leaving my career as a physical therapist. And yes, “I DO love this new avenue of work and helping people” that I’m doing now in my ten hours per week doing financial planning with clients through Abundo.

      As for the blog, I must say that I have been loving it less than I once did. But it still does have aspects I do love. Writing provides me an opportunity to clarify my thinking, learn at a deeper level by teaching others, and at times it is therapeutic. Of course, I could just write for myself and not publish. But writing for this audience does provide a feeling of helping others and building a community. So I’m excited to bring Dave on to do some of the things I don’t love, hopefully allowing me to lean more into the things I do.

      As a side note, Dave is a more traditional retiree. I think people like you who have opted for a more traditional retirement will relate to him well. Since retiring, he has done no paid work so he will bring a different perspective from mine.

      That’s what it’s all about for me. Financial independence should provide the freedom to do what you want on your terms. If you choose a life of leisure and find that fulfilling, I tip my hat to you. If work provides things that are important to you, that’s great too. And life doesn’t have to be all or none. You are also free to dance back and forth between the two, or down-shift to part-time work, semi-retirement, mini-retirements, sabbaticals, etc. To me, feeling beholden to any particular ideology of there only being one way to do life is giving up freedom.


      1. Hi Chris,

        Fair enough. Thanks for your quick response. I will clarify a few things. I am also married, for 44 years now and there’s not much financial uncertainty in our future anymore. Neither one of us was born into wealth and we worked hard for everything we have. We do not live frugally or frivolously, but we have much more coming in than we spend.

        Yes, I had more financial concerns when I was 58 than I do now at 68. About the only thing that would derail our plans would be nightmare scenarios; some type of apocalypse or if social security ceased to exist, which would also be an apocalypse, most likely. My guess is you’ll feel more like me when you’re 58 and 68 too. I do miss all the extra energy I had when I was younger, so you got me on that.

        My real turning point in attitude was when the first grandchild came when I was 60. Then I found out that my true calling was to be a grandparent. I love that more than life itself.

        I wish you well and look forward to seeing what comes next with the blog.


        1. You’re welcome Joey.

          I appreciate these questions when they come from a place of honest curiosity. These types of respectful exchanges of ideas will hopefully inspire others to think at a deeper level about their own lives and goals.

          One thing we have in common is that I also regret not starting my transition sooner. I think I was trapped in the idea that retirement is “the” goal, so I was working a ton of hours in the first couple years of our daughter’s life when we already had a lot of financial security (though by no means enough that we could retire). I feel like I missed out on a lot. I wish in retrospect that I would have started downshifting even sooner, albeit with less financial security. Some seasons of life only happen once and you can’t go back and reclaim that time.


  2. Hi Chris,

    The Olivia Lima article on Roth conversions perpetuates the confusion I’ve long had researching tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals of contributions, conversions, and earnings from a Roth IRA. I know this is a complex matter perhaps beyond the scope of this blog, but I wanted to drill down on one of her paragraphs, which she claims is one of the reasons Roth conversions are NOT ideal:

    “Money needed in less than 5 years: Roth contributions can be withdrawn any time without tax or penalty, but conversions have a 5-year lock-up. If you need the funds sooner, you’ll pay a 10% penalty. So, make sure you only convert funds that are intended for longer-term goals.”

    My understanding regarding conversions (not *contributions*) is that for individuals over 59 1/2, they can withdraw the conversion amounts without penalties, but the *earnings* on those amounts are subject to the 5-year rule to qualify for tax-free withdrawal.

    So, she neglected to factor in the age of the account holder. (She might be right about account holders younger than 59 1/2, which probably applies to many of your readers.)

    Thoughts on this from you or your readers? Thanks!

    1. I have a spreadsheet with this information because it gets confusing and I need my cheat sheet. However, from my readings, once you turn 59 1/2, everything in Roth is available without penalty. Would also love a confirmation though.

      1. Jerry I./MimiT,

        This is an excellent question. The answer is nuanced as there are several different 5 year rules that overlap and also confusing terminology between a qualified and non-qualified Roth IRA distribution. I’ve had this on my list of topics to write about for quite some time, so I’ll write a full post to address these issues. Stay tuned!


  3. Chris, appreciate that you are still carving out some time to write articles and grow/improve the website.

    Welcome David! We continue to look forward to your articles and definitely like the idea of reducing the number of ads!

    1. Thanks Cheryl,

      I appreciate the feedback. I’m excited to see where I can take things with David’s efforts and new skill set!

      Best wishes,

  4. Interesting counter 2021 argument to Roth conversions from a professor at the Santa Clara University – Leavey School of Business and a Boglehead.
    Rebuttals to the “Conventional Wisdom”
    1. “Even if future tax rates aren’t higher a conversion will still pay off”
    2. “The conversion taxes should be paid from outside funds”
    3. “Roth conversions are most beneficial for those who expect RMD’s to push them into the top tax brackets. The benefit declines for those expecting to be in higher brackets if post-conversion tax rates go down as they did in the 15 years between 2002-2011 and 2018-2025. Even if projected t-IRA balances are several million dollars and one can somehow engineer their income to be in the lowest brackets for a year or three; an MFJ doing $100k annual conversions will still barely move the needle on RMD’s.”
    It poses these questions:
    1. Are the funds to be converted truly surplus never to be spent in this lifetime?
    2. Do I have the ability, patience and longevity to wait until age 90+ to take any Roth distributions?
    3. Can income be managed for 1 or 2 years such that its in the zero% bracket?
    No to all 3 means no conversions because only conversions done in the very narrow 0,10% and 12% brackets have a solid chance of paying off. Yes to #3 alone might indicate doing one in those years. For retiree’s this can be difficult if not debt-free. And workers typically wont be in the lower brackets if they’re fully self-supporting and have the ability to save for retirement. They’d be better off taking the government tax break now by contributing to a workplace retirement program.

    1. JT,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      One thing I’ll point out is early retirees and even frugal semi-retirees can live for decades with income falling in the 0% (standard deduction), 10% and 12% tax brackets allowing them to do conversions at favorable rates before SS and RMDs fill those lower brackets as they do for many traditional retirees. FIRE is not a conventional lifestyle, so conventional wisdom may not apply. That is the basis for this post: https://www.caniretireyet.com/early-retirement-tax-planning-101/


  5. Hi Chris,
    Would you know if a person who has a Chase CC from the same family of cards can qualify for a bonus on one of your advertised IHG CC’s? Also, does Chase count 24 or 48 months from the date of last canceled CC that earned a bonus (or from the date the bonus was earned)?
    I’ve been grandfathered to Chase IHG Select Master Card and other IHG cards were canceled after getting their bonuses, but within the last 2 years.
    I understand that you wish to earn a commission by promoting CC, but when there is no information laid out about Chase’s T&C, then I am not so inclined to apply through your affiliated link, KWIM ;-).

    With regards to Pralana Gold product, could you compare it to New Retirement’s offered product? What could be the main pros and cons between the two?
    Will Pralana Gold online be a separate product from its Excel version or will people have an option to use either one once they pay for one of them?
    If I imagine correctly, the Pralana Gold Online will be more comparable to New Retirement’s planning tool because the latter never had an Excel (or Google Sheet) version and all updates of the tool take place behind the scene.

    Lastly, what conclusions/thoughts have you and colleagues at Abundo Wealth drawn in regards to Roth IRA conversions and if they are good to do, in what situations? After reading quite a few articles about this topic and comments from people, I’m starting to think that if someone has at least $1M or more in their traditional IRA or 401k, then it’s good to convert some to a Roth IRA, but it’s way less than $1M then it’s probably not necessary to do it. Of course, I keep reading about this debate and take notes along the way because we’ll need to do them since ours is way north of $1M (a nice problem to have, I know, but it will entail quite a bit of work too).


    1. Sidney,

      Regarding eligibility, you would have to click through to the card you are interested in and read the terms and conditions. For example for this is cut/pasted directly from the IHG One Rewards Premier CC page: “This product is available to you if you do not have a current IHG One Rewards Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Business Card Credit Card products.”

      Dave, like Darrow, is a software engineer. He will be diving into the retirement calculators that we affiliate with in the coming months. Stay tuned! The mention today was primarily a reminder to Pralana loyalists that the new version has been released, and to help build some anticipation for the web based version which I am excited about as I think the Pralana Gold excel based is an excellent tool, but it has a long learning curve for people like me who are not Excel wizards.

      Regarding both of those questions, as we try to shift away from ads that will mean asking readers to support our affiliates more as this always has been a retirement business. As I mentioned above, there are parts of running a blog that I don’t love and I certainly am not willing to pay money out of my pocket to keep it running.

      Regarding your input on the CC and calculator affiliates, I appreciate your feedback and I’ll try to find the right amount of disclosure and information to help readers make an informed decision. That said if that means that the blog has to read like a commercial for our affiliates then just sticking with the ads may be the better and simpler solution. TBD.

      Finally, regarding Roth IRAs, I’m happy to see the interest in the comments regarding traditional vs. Roth and diving into the details of Roth Conversions and qualified distributions. That tells me these are topics that deserve more future attention. Until then, I agree with your basic premise. However, there are variables beyond size of the IRA that determine if and how much to convert to Roth.


  6. Thanks for calling special attention to the “tax rates will rise in the future” argument, Chris! Even if they do for some, they very well may not for any one of us in particular (especially when filling up the bottom income brackets in partial or early retirement). Great stuff as always.

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