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Can 2020 get any more bizarre? In the past month COVID-19 cases and deaths have been on the rise as states reopen. Social unrest is sweeping across the nation. Unemployment is at levels that three months ago would seem unfathomably high. 

The Best

So naturally the stock market…continued its massive bull run towards new all time highs?!?

Some things remain the same as they’ve been. Creating income is a challenge for retirees in this low yield environment. Determining what you want life to look like after retirement can be hard as well. We start with some outstanding resources to address those challenges.

Some things are new. This month I share two new books to help you prepare for retirement. Articles address the historic stock market decline and rebound over the past three months and greater than normal market uncertainty going forward. We also address new strategies for credit card rewards.

We share some ideas to pay your financial good fortune forward to the next generation. I’ll close with resources that can help us all move forward from these challenging times.

Retirement Income

Christine Benz writes Retirees: If You Love Income, You Should Love Cashflow Even More.

Steve Vernon advises to Boost Your Risk-Protected Retirement Income With a Social Security Bridge Payment.

Mike Piper provides a new way to visualize Social Security optimization with Open Social Security: New Feature & Social Security Planning Takeaways.

NewRetirement’s Steve Chen talked with Glen Nakamoto, a DIY retirement planner. It is a fascinating conversation that demonstrates the challenges and complexity of converting assets into cash flow as required when Building a Retirement Paycheck.

Meeting Retirement Needs

Income is not the only need that retirees face. From the ESI Money blog, Three Retirement Needs You Must Satisfy.

New Books

I review a fair number of books each year. Every time I write a book review I inform the author that I will only review the book if I read it in full, like it, and feel it will add value for our audience.

For every book that I review, I turn down or start but don’t finish at least 4-5 other books. This is because book reviews take a lot of time and energy. I don’t want to waste my time or yours reading and writing a review for a book that I don’t feel that I’ll enjoy reading and that you’ll benefit from.

This month, I want to make a rare exception to help publicize two books that I have not actually read.

The first is The Golden Albatross: How To Determine If Your Pension is Worth It. The author blogs semi-anonymously as Grumpus Maximus and has written a guest post on this topic for us in the past.

I didn’t want to invest the time on this book because like many of you, I don’t have access to a pension. Based on my knowledge of the author’s past work and passion for this topic, this is a book that is likely worth your attention if you do have the good fortune of having a pension.

Todd Tresidder also released a revised version of his book How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?.

Again, I didn’t take the time to read the updated version of this book. However, I have read the original version multiple times years ago. The original is a great book that transformed how I think about that important question, and I’m confident the new version will be worth your time as well.

Market Madness

In the face of market volatility and uncertainty, Allan Roth writes The Question Every Advisor Must Answer.

Tyler at Portfolio Charts examines which portfolios did better after this and past crises, writing Welcome to the Big Bounce.

Jeremy at Go Curry Cracker! shares So That’s What It Feels Like To Lose $1 Million

Changing Credit Card Strategies

In last month’s round up, I shared an article about travel reward credit cards. Several readers emailed asking me to publish the post I was planning to release in March to share my credit card strategy. 

That strategy no longer makes sense. At the moment, I don’t have a credit card strategy. 

The pandemic has negatively impacted airlines and hotels more than most businesses. I’m not sure when I’ll want to travel again, what providers will still be in business when I do, and whether they’ll devalue these rewards.

My friend Jared Casazza is much more knowledgeable than me on this topic. He writes Cashing Out Instead of Keeping Points for Credit Card Rewards During COVID-19.

Sophia Kunthara reports Credit Card Companies Expanding Options for Cash-Back Reward Programs.

If you’re interested in credit card rewards, researching the best cash back options probably makes more sense than pursuing travel rewards until we have a better idea what the future looks like. I may cover this topic if I think the cash back rewards justify the effort.

Pay It Forward

I recently shared that I was excited to have the opportunity to speak to physical therapy students about financial independence at my alma mater, The University of Pittsburgh, this summer. 

My trip east and their summer session were cancelled. So that talk is postponed indefinitely. 

Carl Jensen, who writes the blog 1500 Days to Freedom, is going to be speaking to a class at the University of Colorado. He shared the theme of his planned talk, writing What I Wish I Knew.

The amazing thing is that a lot of the things that move the needle towards achieving financial independence are really simple…if only people knew. 

A perfect example: Brian X. Chen wrote How Much Are We Paying For Our Subscription Services. A Lot. The theme is consistent with Darrow’s classic post from this site, Recurring Expenses: Why “A Dollar a Day” is Really $9,000.

For those looking to pay it forward to the next generation in your own homes, Jim Blankenship advises Open a Roth IRA for Your Child.

A Moment For Silence

This past month, we’ve all seen the worst of our country. Racial tensions flared in response to several incidents of police violence against black citizens.

There is a sentiment that we all need to get political. Anyone with a public platform needs to speak out. I’ve seen the assertion that “silence is violence.” 

I disagree with this rhetoric. Sometimes silence means knowing that you don’t have a clue what to say to make things better, and you don’t want to be another voice making things worse.

I prefer Mahatma Gandhi’s take on remaining quiet. He said, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

I’m currently reading Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by former Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD. In it, Murthy shares a lesson he learned as a child by observing his parents. He writes “…to truly listen, you have to meet people where they are, emotionally and physically, however long that takes.”

Silence is necessary if you are actually going to listen to other perspectives, learn, and improve. We don’t need more ill informed voices screaming over one another. We need more understanding, empathy, and grace.

I don’t pretend to fully understand life experiences that are different than my own. So I choose to listen.

This outstanding conversation between Jamila Souffrant and Shawn Rochester from the Journey to Launch podcast highlights challenges that black Americans have to overcome to succeed financially that the rest of us simply don’t. Listening is a great starting point to develop empathy and understanding for an experience many of us haven’t lived.

A Moment For Grace

I always try to end these round up posts with something uplifting, inspirational, or fun that I’ve found on the internet. This month, I’m going with something relevant to our current world, but literally from my own back yard.

Amidst nationwide anti-police protests, I saw American flags and blue ribbons throughout my neighborhood every time I left home over the past couple of weeks. They were up to honor a 24 year-old Ogden city police officer who grew up in the neighborhood. He was shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call.

I urge you to take a minute to read the words of his family. They found grace amidst mourning their son while seeing the profession he died serving vilified. 

I hope we all can follow their lead in finding grace for ourselves and others. Wishing you all health, prosperity, peace, love, and a better month ahead.

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Valuable Resources

  • The Best Retirement Calculators can help you perform detailed retirement simulations including modeling withdrawal strategies, federal and state income taxes, healthcare expenses, and more. Can I Retire Yet? partners with two of the best.
  • Free Travel or Cash Back with credit card rewards and sign up bonuses.
  • Monitor Your Investment Portfolio
    • Sign up for a free Personal Capital 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. 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 has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, U.S. News & World Report, and Business Insider. He is also the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. You can reach him at chris@caniretireyet.com.]

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