July 2020 Best of the Web

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I hope everyone is making the best of the circumstances and finding ways to enjoy your summer.

The Best

This month we highlight Jonathan Clements transition to retirement and Burton Malkiel and Jeremy Siegel’s takes on current market conditions. We also feature a few of our favorite contemporary writers’ opinions on investing through these challenging times.

Mainstream personal finance is starting to embrace solid principles of FIRE. A couple of articles show those principles in practice.

We close with some timely tips for those hoping to pull off a safe summer road trip amidst the pandemic, and a little escapism for those who are staying home. Have a great month!

Practical Retirement Considerations

Jonathan Clements recently shared that he is likely only a year or two away from transitioning from semi-retirement to full retirement. He writes My Four Goals as he enters this next phase of his life.

As early retirees, Darrow and I have written extensively about options for health insurance prior to Medicare eligibility. But Medicare is not free. Sarah O’Brien writes Here’s how much Medicare could cost you in retirement.

Investing Legends Weigh In On The Markets

Burton Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and Rick Ferri had a fascinating and wide ranging conversation on the Bogleheads on Investing podcast.

Jeremy Siegel, author of Stocks for the Long Run, discussed the stock market and COVID-19 with Barry Ritholtz on the Masters In Business podcast.

Mere Mortals Weigh In On The Market

The next articles come from contemporary investment writers who, while not yet recognized as investing legends, we respect and read regularly.

The topic of gold has been front of mind for me recently. Nick Maggiulli asks and answers the question Why Is Gold Valuable?

Extreme low interest rates are another thing I’ve been thinking and writing about recently. Ben Carlson writes 5 Thoughts on a World with No Yield.

Mike Piper continues to beat the drum about the value of having a simple approach to investing, writing Using an All-in-One Fund During a Downturn.

Karsten “Big ERN” Jeske shares his Thoughts on the “Passive Investing Bubble.”

Morningstar On FIRE

There is a perception of FIRE espousing extreme viewpoints, tactics, and lifestyles that aren’t achievable by “normal” people. My inspiration to blog and the mission behind my book was sharing the solid underlying FIRE principles in a way that would resonate with a much wider audience.

So I was pleasantly surprised this month to read that Morningstar’s director of personal finance Christine Benz perception of the FIRE movement has changed, and I had a part in her transformation. She writes Confessions of a Former ‘FIRE’ Skeptic.

Following up on that, longtime Morningstar contributor John Rekenthaler wrote In Celebration of Financial Independence.

FIRE Principles In Practice

Alan Donegan has become popular in the FIRE community for his work helping others start businesses without debt. Trevor Clawson featured Donegan’s story in Forbes, writing Learning to Bootstrap – Teaching Debt-Free Entrepreneurship In A Time of Crisis.

It’s popular to celebrate entrepreneurship and side hustles and bash college and traditional career paths. Nick Maggiulli pushes back against this narrative, writing There is Nothing Wrong With a Traditional Career.

Jim Dahle took a traditional career path as a physician. Few personal finance bloggers have been as successful at monetizing a website as he has with White Coat Investor. But even with a physician’s salary and million dollar online business, he recognizes the benefit of the most basic FIRE principle: frugality. He writes The Best Side Gig Is Spending Less.

On The Road Again?

Summer is flying by. Hopes that the pandemic will be ending in time for summer travels to resume any semblance of normalcy are being downgraded from wishful thinking to not happening.

Kristen Bor shares excellent Tips for a Safe Road Trip During COVID-19.

If you’re looking for inspiration for a time when travel regains some normalcy or just some good old fashioned escapism, check out the ChooseFI podcast interview with Steven and Lauren who write the blog Trip Of a Lifestyle. They share their story of visiting all of the U.S. National Parks before age 30 while working towards financial independence. If you love our National Parks like I do, you should check out Steven and Lauren’s writing and photography on their blog.

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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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  1. A couple of days ago I interviewed an applicant for rental. They were relocating out of Chicago out of fear of Coronavirus and violence. Is this a new migration pattern? Also, more articles on the new normal with Coronavirus. May this be a good article subject for the blog? How could we enjoy retirement within this new normal?

    1. Interesting idea to look at current trends, but I think at this point any ideas about a long term “new normal” are purely speculative.

  2. Lots to read — it gives good alternatives to doomscrolling. I am not surprised that FIRE skeptics would reconsider given that FIRE is probably the best hedge against what’s happening now. I also love how you included posts around starting a business with no debt (we certainly did that by starting a consulting business that had essentially no costs and piggybacked off my existing knowledge and network) and that you don’t have to start a business but could stay in traditional work (this pandemic shows that having the resources of a corporation to float your healthcare coverage can be a lifesaver).

    1. Agree that the popular idea a few months ago that the pandemic will kill the FIRE movement was ill informed. As Darrow and I have each written from our perspectives, few people are thriving and no one wants to go through what we are, but those who are FI or at least on the path and have some financial cushion are far better positioned to weather this, or any, storms.


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