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July 2019 Best of the Web

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Each month we share the best resources we’ve found to help you save more, invest better, and retire sooner.

Popular topics are building wealth, DIY investing, creating retirement income, managing risk, and limiting your tax burden to enable you to use your money to build the life you want.

Early retirement frees up the time to ponder topics that tend to get neglected during careers. So while this is first and foremost a personal finance blog, we also share articles about traveling and seeking adventure, finding happiness, enhancing health, improving relationships, and creating meaning and purpose in life.

I hope you enjoy and get great value from our selections for this month’s Best of the Web. . .

Kitces on FIRE

Michael Kitces’ in depth reporting and analysis of the most current strategies and research in financial planning make his Nerd’s Eye View blog mandatory reading for those planning their own retirement.

This month he wrote The Problem With FIREing at 4% And The Need For Flexible Spending Rules.

Also from the Nerd’s Eye View blog, Jeffrey Levine wrote Options For Allowing Family Members To Help Manage Accounts In The Event Of Diminished Or (In)Capacity.

The Psychology of Drawdown

Mike Piper notes that bucket strategies are psychological strategies, not financial ones in Simplifying a Retirement Bucket Portfolio.

Mark Trautman provides a case study of the change in psychology from saver to spender with Portfolio Drawdown Anxiety — Discussions At Camp FI.

Staying the Course

A big part of managing the emotions of investing are blocking out irrelevant noise as Ben Carlson brilliantly demonstrates with Gathering Investment Lessons From the Headlines.

The only thing that is certain with investing is that nothing is certain. This is demonstrated by the wide variation of perspectives on value investing among investing experts. From Abnormal Returns, Blogger wisdom: the death of value.

Funding A Life of Adventure

My wife and I were always driven to save money by a desire to build a life with more time to seek adventure in the outdoors, coining the term dirtbag millionaires along the way to describe our lifestyle. That mixing of adventure and finance is also what initially drove me to Darrow’s writing on this blog after finding him through his guest post, What Big Wall Rock Climbing Can Teach Us About Wealth Building, on the Financial Mentor site years ago.

This month, I made my first deliberate attempt to spread the idea of financial independence to the naturally frugal outdoor community in a fun interview with Mason Gravley on the Adventure Sports Podcast episode titled Using Financial Independence to Fuel a Life of Adventure. Check it out and if you enjoy my interview, download some of my other favorite episodes for the car ride to your summer adventures, including interviews with rock climbing legend Tommy Caldwell, author of the book Vagabonding Rolf Potts, and micro-adventurer Alastair Humphreys.

The Softer Side of Finance

I was originally motivated to seek financial independence and early retirement to provide the freedom to seek adventure in the outdoors. This provides a great transition for switching the focus from technical finance issues to some great articles exploring why you are taking all the time and effort to save, invest, and plan for retirement in the first place.

Nick Maggiulli writes The Most Important Asset.

Jonathan Clements writes That’s Enough.

ESI Money shares 10 Small Joys of Early Retirement.

J.D. Roth writes Identity Economics: Who are you? And how does it effect your spending?

And an audio selection from the New Retirement podcast: Jim McCarthy — A Simple Guide to Happiness.

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[Contributing Editor 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' writing has been featured in MarketWatch, Doughroller, Business Insider and RockStar Finance. He is also the primary author of the forthcoming book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. You can reach him at chris@caniretireyet.com.]

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Comments

  1. Chris … these are outstanding! Thank you for providing them.

    Best,

    DJ

  2. I won’t be attending Camp FI

    • Chris Mamula says

      Curious why Randy. I personally haven’t and don’t have plans to attend either, as there are other places I would rather be if spending a weekend away from my family. That said, I do participate in local meet-ups and participate in a small private “master-mind” group and find it is valuable to have others with similar goals, plans, and common struggles to discuss things with, so I see the value and appeal of these types of events.

      • While I would like to meet up with other “FI and RE minded” folks in person, this statement from Trautman’s article was very telling about what kind of group “CampFI” appeared to be:

        “I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was in the minority of those who had reached financial independence and who was currently drawing down on a portfolio to replace income after leaving traditional employment.”

        I have seen on other sites that the “FI movement” gatherings are of folks who merely changed careers to writing and blogging and side hustles and etc. And are militant about saying that they are “retired” when they’re really, really not. For example, I think “CampFI” was organized by “ChooseFI” which is itself a side hustle of someone.

        I’m guessing that so-called “FIRE gatherings” won’t really be my cup of tea.

        p.s. Chris or Darrow, a web site issue for you: If I’m writing a comment and I hit Tab, I expect to go to the Name field. But it goes to the “Sign Up” bar at the top of the screen and I have to scroll back to where I was writing my comment.

        • Chris Mamula says

          To my understanding (others can correct me if I’m mistaken) Camp FI (https://campfi.org/) is basically a get together for people interested in learning concepts about and more importantly connecting with others on the path to FI. They do have bloggers/writers/podcasters give presentations, but I’m fairly certain they are not compensated other than receiving free admission to the event.

          Having partnered with the ChooseFI guys on our upcoming book, (https://www.choosefi.com/book/) I can tell you that they do not organize and I’m fairly certain they don’t have a formal affiliation with the events. I can also tell you with certainty that they are the opposite of being “militant about saying they are retired.” Jonathan, one of the two hosts, quit his 6-figure job as a pharmacist shortly after becoming debt-free to pursue growing ChooseFI as his primary source of income and is very transparent about it. Brad, the other co-host, is in a similar position as myself and is doing it because he feels he is able to have a positive impact on other people’s lives while having a lot of lifestyle flexibility with two young children at home. It is perfectly fine to criticize, but also important to be accurate if doing so.

          I agree these events don’t have to be everyone’s “cup of tea,” and honestly they’re not mine at this stage in life either, but I do see the value in them and would consider participating in the future if it fits with my lifestyle and would allow me to help others out and pay my good fortune forward.

          Thanks for the heads up on the technical issue. We’ll be working on redesigning the site over the next couple of months to provide a better user experience. This is another one of those things that takes substantial time and/or money to address. Unlike writing, which we both enjoy, the technical stuff is a necessary evil that goes along with having a moderately successful blog. So no promises on how fast that happens. Thanks for your understanding.

          • I see my error. Trautman attended a “CampFI” where he met people that he knew through “ChooseFI”. Too many people are out there attaching “FI” to otherwise ordinary words.

            There are several FIRE bloggers that espouse “the movement” and have fairly rigid definitions of what one should/must do. And other bloggers who oppose them. I won’t name names here because you and Darrow stay above all that.

            I would like to find a local group in my area, I’m sure there is one, but I don’t really care to be part of anyone’s “movement”. I guess that’s what I meant to say.

      • It doesn’t seem worth the money. The PF blogs have everything I need already. If I’m away from family, rather go some place else. It’s just over kill to me

        • Chris Mamula says

          That’s fair, but finding peers and mentors is very important to others as it was to me. To each their own.

  3. It’s kinda amusing that the Clements blog post with bullet points of “Pursuing more leaves us running in place” and “Possessions become a burden” carried an ad panel asking me to lease a Lexus for $409 a month. So much for humility and minimalism.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Ha! Many don’t understand that running a successful blog comes with many expenses such as having site security/ back ups, site hosting, managing an email list, etc. There is no perfect way to monetize a blog, but Clements goes the same route we do in having ads. It’s not perfect, but it is the most passive way to generate some income to cover these expenses. It does create for some awkward ads though. I know on this blog, I write about why I don’t like robo-advisors or brokerage houses, and then see ads from those sources on the article. We ultimately don’t control what ads run, other than having the ability to block those that we find offensive.

      • I use an ad blocker, so I don’t see your ads, but I wanted to thank you for NOT adding any nagging pop-ups asking me to remove my ad blocker. Most considerate of you.

    • Chris Mamula says

      I’m familiar with the Dalbar study. It tends to get criticized for overstating things, but it makes an important point that both fees AND behavior matter in your ultimate investment returns.

  4. Chris,
    Intresting point about the frugality of outdoor minded people. I think we spend a bit on quality kit we need for our activity but that kit tends to be well made and durable so there is not much need for ongoing expenditure. The other character trait outdoor oriented people seem to have is a distaste for mindless materialism. I clearly see that value in my outdoor friends. I would imagine they would be a very receptive audience for FIRE.

    • Chris Mamula says

      Agree with both points TIm. I would love to find ways to continue spreading this message directly to the outdoor community.

      It is amazing how many people I’ve met over the years that say they want more time to be in the outdoors and that say they care about the environment, but then continue to live consumerist lifestyles, always buying the newest gear or needing bigger trips, that both trap them in their lifestyle and use up resources they claim to care so much about.

      Hopefully our stories can help some people make that connection.

      • cynicalanddisgusted says

        Many years ago while hiking in the Sierra Nevada I came across a gentleman that seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time hiking in the wilderness, I was a working stiff at the time and could only get away for two or three weeks of wilderness adventure a year. My query concerning what he did that allowed him to hike for 60 or 80 days a summer was answered – and that answer changed my whole perspective on work/life.

        He said “I don’t do anything. Any fool can work for a living”.

  5. 16 or 17 writers/bloggers mentioned and all are male. Is this reflective of the FI community, I wonder?

    • Chris Mamula says

      As far as whether the FI community is all men, just last month we featured two articles under the heading “Women and FIRE” highlighting the diversity in the FI community. https://www.caniretireyet.com/june-2019-best-web/

      The articles we feature in the round-ups include FI bloggers, but tend to skew toward more toward more established financial media and financial planners which are still male dominated industries. For example, we regularly feature the personalities that work and write for Ritholtz Wealth Management, as they put out a lot of good material. Three of the writers this month, Ben Carlson, Tadas Viskanta, and Nick Maggiulli work for Ritholtz as do about 5-6 other men I am aware of who publish blogs and/or podcasts, but there is only one woman on their team to my knowledge who publishes her writing, Blair duQuesnay who writes the Belle Curve (https://blairbellecurve.com/). As such, our articles probably do skew towards male writers.

      Even so, there are many women putting out great content. See past round-ups that regularly include Morningstar’s Christine Benz, NYT columnist and consumer advocate Tara Siegel Bernard, and Money Magazine’s Elizabeth O’Brien as well as my recent review of Cameron Huddleston’s new book (https://www.caniretireyet.com/helping-aging-parents-with-their-money/) as a few examples of female financial journalists that jump front of mind.

    • Cici, if you look at other articles on this site and the other ER sites, you’ll find many of the comments written by women who provide links to their blogs. (Not on this article for whatever reason.)