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Spring has arrived. Beyond the standard longer days and warmer weather, it feels like we’re getting a fresh start after a dark year. There are many reasons to feel optimistic. Still there seems to be an uneasiness and uncertainty in the air.
This month I start with an outstanding article that touches on the complexities and uncertainties of life that make retirement planning a challenge. We also explore the idea that we can eliminate complexity and challenges by making many things irrelevant.
There are several perspectives on dealing with current bubbly market conditions and what to do to protect your self. We also look at the price we pay for our medical care here in the United States.
Finally, we close with the idea of reconnecting with people as we emerge from the pandemic, and I offer some resources to help you do so.
Enjoy the articles and have a great month!
The Long and Short of It
We start this month’s selections with the first piece of writing published on the blog Living a FI in about five years. It is a lengthy but outstanding read, illuminating unknowns we can’t predict when contemplating the early retirement decision. The 2021 Early Retirement Update.
The next selection is a short easy read that is also well worth your time. Harry Sit perfectly encapsulated one of the core themes of this blog, getting the big things right so you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. And he does it in an incredibly clever and entertaining way, writing Make Fewer Things Matter: My Epiphany From Cutting A Pineapple.
At 90 years of age and coming off back-to-back years of underperforming the S&P 500 by double digits, many people think Warren Buffett’s best days have passed. That remains to be seen. I still enjoy reading his annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. He released the most recent letter this month.
Physician on FIRE shared a Buffett aphorism that is apropos in our present investing environment, writing No Called Strikes in This Business.
Staying on the topic of our current market conditions, Jonathan Clements writes Blowing Bubbles.
William Bernstein was on the Morningstar Longview Podcast, We’re Starting to See All of the Signs of a Bubble.
Blair deQuesnay writes Get Rich versus Stay Rich.
All Star Content
RockStar Finance was one of my favorite websites when I got serious about learning about personal finance. Blogger J Money and his team curated the best personal finance content on the web. They always found interesting content and unique perspectives from a variety of voices, including many I would have never otherwise heard of.
He sold the site a few years ago. This left a void in curating personal finance content that many of us, including me here, have been trying to fill.
I was excited to learn he recently launched a new curation site called All-Star Money. I’ve been enjoying scrolling through the featured articles. I recommend checking out this new site.
A great example of a different viewpoint from a writer whose work I wasn’t familiar with from the first few days of the new site was this piece from Steveark titled Your Hourly Wage on Steroids.
The State of American Healthcare
This month, I wrote about the changes, at least for the next 2 years, to the healthcare market for early retirees resulting from the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Unfortunately, our American healthcare system continues to have major long-term systemic issues that keep it unstable and make planning challenging. Possibly the biggest is a lack of price transparency.
A while ago, I recommended Marty Makary’s book The Price We Pay. The book provides long-term, physician driven, systemic solutions for our healthcare system. It also gives practical tips to navigate the system until these solutions are made, solutions like the medical services we receive having prices we can find and comprehend.
This month, I watched a pair of short news segments from my former hometown of Pittsburgh, PA that Makary shared on social media. They reported on new regulations pushed by advocacy groups he supports to improve pricing transparency. They’re worth watching to get a better understanding of the issues that impact many of our finances and health care decisions.
The first shares progress being made to improve health care price transparency at one small community hospital. These policies were enacted under the spirit of the law.
The second highlights how far we have to go. The massive health networks that perform the lion’s share of healthcare services in the community are currently following the letter of the law, while keeping consumers mostly in the dark.
How this new law plays out for health care consumers remains to be seen. I’ll be watching.
Getting Over Our Fears
Kara Duckworth writes Help! I’m Afraid to Retire, Even Though I Can Afford To.
This month I had a great discussion with Joe Casey and Dennis Wusestman on the Retirement Wisdom Podcast. One topic we discussed was how my adventure experience in the mountains helps me re-frame scary decisions and manage risks that I can’t afford to take. Check out the full conversation here.
Earlier this month, Diania Merriam offered a pair of tickets to her EconoMe conference to a Can I Retire Yet? reader. I emailed the winner this weekend and am waiting for them to confirm. If you expressed an interest in the tickets, check your email! I’ll update this post when a winner is confirmed.
Last year, I began meeting with blog readers online. I’ve gotten great feedback from readers and it has been a joy for me. After taking a few months off, I’d love to connect with some more of you. We can discuss anything you would like about your journey to financial independence and early retirement and how I can better serve you. Note I can not offer any specific investing or tax planning advice. If you’d like to chat, grab one of the four spots on my schedule for April.
Getting Back on the Road With Travel Points
Last week I received my first Pfizer vaccine. I’m getting excited to start reconnecting with friends and family who I haven’t been able to see over the past year. To those ends, I’ve been planning travel and getting back into the game of accumulating credit card travel rewards points to help pay for it.
My absolute favorite credit card to do so is the Chase Sapphire Preferred(R) Card. Last month, I shared that I recently signed up for this card when it had the standard 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus. I was happy to be able to do so after waiting four years to become eligible again. Unfortunately, I was a little early.
Chase is currently offering a rare opportunity to get an even better deal. You will receive an 80,000 point bonus if you spend $4,000 in purchase on the card in the first three months after opening the card. Those points are worth at least $800 cash, $1,000 for travel booked through the Chase portal, and potentially even more if you transfer the points to travel partners like Southwest Airlines or Hyatt Hotels. The card has a $95 annual fee.
If you are on the fence about getting a new credit card for travel or cash back rewards, don’t wait on this one!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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