July 2021 Best of the Web

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This month we start with a resource to help you to improve the quality of your life as you age. Resources will help get back to basics and strengthen the foundation upon which you can build your investment strategies.

The Best

We’ll get honest about FIRE and the challenges of finding good financial advice. Resources will help you find some great deals, the secret to happiness, and ways to live a more balanced life.

Finally, I close with a fun interview to listen to as you hit the road for your summer adventures. Enjoy and have a great month!

A Couple of Gems

Peter Attia interviewed geriatric psychiatrist Amanda Smith for a deep dive into diagnosing, preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A two hour podcast on this topic may be too deep a dive for you. If so skip all the way to the one hour 47 minute mark. The last ten minutes of the conversation stand alone and are pure gold. Whether you’re 30 or 90 years old, in perfect health or battling serious illness, you will find valuable wisdom that will help you age with more happiness and dignity.

Recently a friend returned my copy of John Bogle’s book The Little Book of Common Sense Investing that I had lent to him. I started flipping through. In one evening, I ended up re-reading the entire book. One quote stuck with me on this re-reading:

“While an index-driven strategy may not be the best investment strategy ever devised, the number of investment strategies that are worse is infinite.”

I couldn’t help but think about his quote in the ensuing days and weeks. I saw and heard repeated stories about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Robinhood/meme stocks/options/day trading, ESG strategies, etc.

We need to be lifelong learners, open to growth and new ideas. However, as we navigate a world filled with noise, I like to return to things that are foundational… based in math, common sense, and timeless truth. Bogle’s “Little Book” is one of those things.

Getting Back to Fundamentals

Ben Carlson reminds us How the Stock Market Works.

Carlson says we should be wary of those who claim to know when, why, or by how much the market will fluctuate. He writes How to Predict a Market Crash.

Mike Piper clarifies a topic many people misunderstand: Roth IRA Withdrawal Rules. He also created this simple Roth IRA distribution tool to help you quickly apply the information to your specific situation.

Getting Honest about FIRE

I recently was critical of Vanguard’s article about applying the 4% rule to people pursuing FIRE. My article got a lot of engagement from readers, some who agreed with my take and others defending Vanguard. Most all were respectful and valuable additions to the conversation. For that I thank you!

Tyler at Portfolio Charts also had some issues with Vanguard’s paper. He writes What Vanguard Gets Right (and Wrong) About the 4% Rule.

Applying simple FIRE principles has been life changing for me. I want those life changing principles to be made accessible to as many people as possible. I get irritated when people don’t take time to understand the concepts, then present them inaccurately or unfairly to get clicks or further their own agenda.

So it’s only fair to praise people who do take the time to present FIRE fairly. Charlotte Cowles recently did so in the New York Times, writing The Pandemic Forged New FIRE Followers, With a Difference.

Getting Good Financial Advice

One fair criticism of FIRE bloggers is that they’re often dogmatically against financial advisors. I try to be fair in writing about when and how to seek the best advice possible.

However, the financial industry doesn’t make it easy for consumers. Allan Roth points this out, writing The CFP board has given up on protecting the public from unscrupulous advisors.

Getting the Best Deals

This month I had to renegotiate my internet package. If you’ll be doing the same, this Consumer Reports article is filled with useful information. CR’s Guide to Getting Better Internet Without Busting Your Budget.

Getting Perspective

Morgan Housel writes, “One of the most important financial skills is getting the goalpost to stop moving. It’s also one of the hardest.”

Getting Balanced

Too often, we get too focused on work, saving, and planning for retirement and our lives get out of balance.

Jillian Johnsrud explores practical ideas about a slower, but possibly more enjoyable, path to financial independence on the ChooseFI podcast. Unlocking Your First Mini-Retirement

Ed Rowell expands on a concept many of us think about only with our investments, writing A Diversified Life.

Getting Adventurous

As I’ve been trying to settle back into a routine after our epic summer road trip, I loved listening to this conversation between Doc G and Heidi Dusek on the Earn & Invest podcast about one of my favorite topics: Design Your Life With Adventure.

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Valuable Resources

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  • Monitor Your Investment Portfolio
    • Sign up for a free Empower account to gain access to track your asset allocation, investment performance, individual account balances, net worth, cash flow, and investment expenses.
  • 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. Great picks for reading on important topics, Chris. Thank you.
    I am shopping for a CFP as we speak as I struggle to navigate the complexities of transitioning from accumulation to income and tax efficiency. My first CFP interview was with Fidelity… I expressed to him that I struggle to understand how a CFP working for a financial institution can have a fiduciary relationship with a client, the articles you posted were helpful and reinforced my concerns, but also my desire to get help instead of struggling and making a big mistake. I will seek an independent CFP!
    Thanks again.

    1. Good luck Dave! Finding good advice at a fair price is a challenge. I’d love to hear how it goes if you’d be willing to share.


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