May 2020 Best of the Web

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This month we zoom out to focus on the big picture. How can we ask better questions to help find better retirement planning solutions?

The Best

Part of that planning process is being able to filter out noise to find actionable information. I share some sources of information that I’m currently finding helpful.

Our selections address suddenly relevant questions that many of us may not have thought to ask about what happens when major institutions suddenly cease to exist. We also address some technical issues related to Social Security, Health Savings Accounts, and Roth IRAs.

Finally, as spring rolls into summer more events that were once part of our lives are getting canceled. It’s hard to not have moments of sadness. I close with an article that made me smile while cranking up the nostalgia to rock and roll level volumes.

Enjoy the articles and stay well!

The Big Picture

Christine Benz has been using the challenges of quarantine to stretch her thinking. She writes OK, People: It’s Time to Think Big.

Andy Hill talked to former financial adviser turned media personality Joe Saul-Sehy who advises Planning Your Retirement Savings Using Spending (Not Income)

Honest Ideas

It’s hard to make sense of the current state of the world. So much information has become politicized and sensationalized. I’ve tried to step back from the barrage of current “information.”

I’m currently reading William Bernstein’s The Investor’s Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything In Between. Bernstein is a student of history, particularly with regards to risk and reward in financial markets. He wrote this book about a decade ago on the heels of the great financial crisis. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling to make sense of investing in this time of chaos.

A website that I’ve recently been enjoying is Pairagraph, which describes itself as “A hub of discourse between notable individuals.” A great selection to start with is Robert Schiller and Burton Malkiel debating the question: Does Covid-19 Prove the Stock Market Is Inefficient?

Changing Times

In mid-March I was preparing to publish an article on how my family has used travel credit card rewards. We’ve consistently saved a couple thousand dollars on travel annually by strategically signing up for a few new cards each year. The world has changed. That strategy and the idea of traveling in general feel out of touch at the moment.

Jacob Passy writes an article much more relevant to our current reality. He asks Airlines are on the brink of bankruptcy – what happens to your voucher, travel miles and airline credit card if they go belly up?

I did publish an overview of annuities earlier this year. At their core they are insurance products that protect you from outliving your money.

Cameron Huddleston asks What Happens If Your Insurance Company Goes Out of Business? I discussed that risk in my post, but it’s another thing that is easy to dismiss in normal times. These times are anything but normal.

Getting Technical

Christine Benz asks and answers Does Delaying Social Security Really Deliver an 8% Return?

I’m a fan of Health Savings Accounts. Mike Piper taught me something new about them with Inherited HSA Rules.

Rick Moberg reviews the rules that govern withdrawals from Roth IRAs writing Give Me Five.

Rock & Roll

The pandemic has changed life as we know it, even in households like mine where we’ve remained healthy and in a relatively strong financial position.

Uncertainty rules the day. We became homeschoolers overnight. Our ski season ended abruptly. Grocery shopping feels like going into battle, armed with a face mask and hand sanitizer clipped to my belt.

We have no idea when we’ll see our families on the other side of the country again. We’ve canceled summer travel plans, and are hoping to be able to at least do some local adventures. 

Another event that brings me joy in the summer is seeing live music. Concerts, as well as any other events with large gatherings of people, are another casualty of the pandemic for the foreseeable future.

Dave Grohl knows the intoxicating magic of a live concert. He beautifully shares how he’s experienced that magic in the rafters as a fan and as the front man playing sold out stadiums, writing The Day the Live Concert Returns.

Until that day comes, I’ve been getting my live(ish) music fix listening to Songs of Their Own on YouTube, a collection of 100 Grateful Dead covers.

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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 Financial planning inquiries can be sent to]

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