January 2024 Best of the Web

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I hope your year is off to a great start! I have some outstanding resources to help you improve your finances in 2024 and I’m giving away a unique experience to a lucky reader.

Online retirement resources

We’ll start with a few resources that will challenge you to get more intentional about what you want life to look like along the path to financial independence and in retirement. Resources also reinforce classic FIRE principles that are applicable even if FIRE isn’t your goal. 

You’ll learn why finding tax help is getting harder and more expensive when you do find it. I share concerning statistics related to health care costs and bankruptcy. Finally, I’ll close out with some resources to make you a better investor.

Rethinking Retirement

The second post I ever contributed to this site was about Redefining Retirement. I certainly wasn’t the first person promoting alternatives to a traditional retirement. But this idea was more rare nearly a decade ago.

The first three resources show that this idea is more common today, which I think is a great thing.

Jim Dahle challenges readers to think about how to best make use of your health, wealth, and time throughout your life. He writes The Seasons of Your Life.

Christene Benz and Jeff Ptak explored these ideas with Dan Haylett on the Morningstar Long View Podcast: Retirement Planning = Life Planning.

Michael S. Fischer reports on survey results showing that More Than Half of Americans Want to Retire Gradually.

EconoMe

Diania Merriam created the EconoMe conference to gather likeminded people exploring the ideas of pursuing financial independence and creating unique lifestyles. You can read my interview with Diania from 2021 here to learn more.

I will be speaking at this year’s conference. It will be held in Cincinnati, OH from March 15-17. I have an extra ticket I would like to offer to a reader. If you are interested, leave me a comment explaining in 2-3 sentences why you would like to go. I’ll pick a winner this Friday, February 2.

Tis the Season…

Tax season is approaching. Mike Piper explains why those of you seeking an accountant to help with your taxes shouldn’t be surprised to find help getting harder to find and more expensive when you do. He writes My Tax Preparer Just Raised Her Fees – What Should I Do?

FIRE

John P Greaney shares How I used the 4% rule over the past 29 years. This is a fabulous look at a real individual’s early retirement experience.

Many critics of FIRE equate saving with sacrifice. Katie Gatti Tassin expresses a powerful counterargument. Being intentional with spending actually makes life better. She writes Consumerism is Exhausting.

Our Broken Health Insurance System

The biggest financial risk for FIRE practitioners who leave employer provided health care is navigating America’s broken health care system, possibly having to deal with decades of uncertainty until reaching Medicare age.

Jessica Glenza reports a Majority of debtors to US hospitals now are people with health insurance. Of particular interest to readers planning for health care costs were numbers shared related to high deductibles for Obamacare plans.

This rang true for me. Even with generous ACA premium subsidies, my household of three is paying $4,500 in annual premiums in 2024 (the retail cost without subsidies is about triple that) for a plan with max-out-of-pocket expenses of $16,100 for 2024. Plan accordingly.

Investing Principles

I recently completed William Bernstein’s second edition of The Four Pillars of Investing. The book is not light reading. However, Bernstein’s explorations of the 4 Pillars (theory, history, psychology, and business of investing) is a must read for anyone serious about managing your own investments.

One of the most important investment principles to understand is diversification. Yet as I talk with new clients and see their portfolios, I see many people with immensely complex portfolios, yet they lack diversification. The next three resources will help understand this concept.

Ben Carlson calls diversification The Holy Grail of Portfolio Management.

Nick Maggiulli explores The Downsides of Diversification.

Finally, I’ll close out with a video from Abundo Wealth about a strategy that offers massive diversification with extreme simplicity. Lori Bodenhamer shares 4 Simple Benefits of a 3 Fund Portfolio.

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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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3 Comments

    1. Yes, the biggest downside to traditional retirement is that people save to finally have the time and money, but often no longer have their health by the time they get there. The flip side of that is why I am a FIRE advocate. If you can master your money by spending on things you truly value, but not get sucked into being overly frugal, it is possible to achieve financial independence your money can free up your time at an early age when you are more likely to still have your health.

      Best,
      Chris

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