May 2021 Best of the Web

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This month we kick off with a few outstanding planning resources to help you make better financial decisions and build a satisfying life in retirement.

The Best

Resources build on recent blog posts to help you overcome fears related to your finances and to better make sense of all the new money circulating through the economy. Articles also address perception vs. reality of the American tax code.

We provide resources to help you become a better bond investor, and to make sense of the ongoing craziness in the cryptocurrency space. Resources also address the important topics of helping friends and family in need, and thinking about who will help you when you can no longer take care of yourself.

Finally, we close with a look at the evolution of the FIRE movement and the principles it espouses.


Retirement Planning 101

Mike Piper provides A Basic Financial Planning Checklist.

Piper was also a recent guest on the Long View Podcast where he expanded on a lot of these ideas and provided elegant common sense solutions to the biggest retirement conundrums most of us will face.

A successful retirement is more than mastering your numbers. Joe Kesler shares the Secret Sauce.

Overcoming Fears

This month, I wrote about a risk management strategy we use to overcome fear that we don’t have enough money to last through a long retirement. I wasn’t the only one thinking about financial fears.

David Stein points out that we tend to get more fearful with our investments as we get older. This is logical, as we’ve experienced negative events in the past and we now tend to have more to lose. He shares How to Overcome Investing Fears.

More on Modern Monetary Theory

This month I also wrote about Stephanie Kelton’s influential book The Deficit Myth. In response, a reader shared an interview with Kelton on the MacroVoices podcast. It is well worth your time to listen to both the interview and host Erik Townsend’s post interview analysis. Hat tip to CIRY? reader Ian for sharing this resource.

Taxes: Myth vs. Reality

Taxes are a big source of worry for many people approaching retirement. A long held position on this blog is that this worry is overblown for many early retirees. 

Darrow originally shared this contrarian viewpoint here, writing Why I Don’t Fret About Taxes, that caused me to change my thinking. I more recently shared that even a semi-retired lifestyle creates amazing tax benefits.

This month, Catherine Rampell opined that our taxes are already very low, writing Americans just got a tax cut. But most of them don’t realize it.

While we take a laissez-faire attitude towards taxes, Jeremy at Go Curry Cracker likes to optimize his tax return each year to pay $0 federal income tax. Spoiler alert: he accomplished his goal again this year. Still it is worth reading Go Curry Cracker 2020 Taxes to help you think about strategies to lower your tax bill.

From a Bland (But Important) Topic…

Jim Blankenship provides a concise resource to summarize the difference between Bonds and Bond Funds.

…To an Exciting (and ???) One

Each month, I promise myself I’m not going to include anything in these “Best of” roundups about cryptocurrencies. And each month, crypto stories dominate the financial news and I get multiple questions about them from readers.

My head says to just ignore this topic. My gut tells me totally ignoring it may make this blog irrelevant. So here are a few more resources that address cryptocurrencies in a helpful and responsible way.

Ben Carlson writes 4 Lessons From the Crypto Crash.

JL Collins likens attitudes around cryptocurrencies to a religion, writing Collins on Crypto.

Helping Others

Christine Benz and Michelle Singletary discuss How to Help Loved Ones Financially.

Dana Anspach shares a powerful personal story of financially helping a loved one suffering with mental illness.

Who Will Help You?

Joy Loverde appeared on the Retirement Wisdom Podcast where they explored a hard question: Who Will Take Care of You When You Are Older?

Evolution of FIRE

I discovered the idea of financial independence and retiring early (FIRE) around 2012 through the blog Early Retirement Extreme. Soon after I found Mr. Money Mustache and The Mad Fientist. The simple but profound financial concepts they wrote about radically changed my life. Once I saw the possibilities created by using money to build a different and better way of life, I couldn’t unsee them.

However, there were parts of the message I didn’t agree with. There was an overemphasis on frugality, optimization of all aspects of finances, and delaying gratification with the idea that happiness was automatic once you hit a magic number and could retire.

This is not a criticism. They were pioneers, figuring things out as they went. I did not start writing because I thought I was some guru who had answers that they didn’t.

I was inspired by them and wanted to build upon their work so more people would be open to their core ideas. This was the idea behind my first regular post on this site, Hello, I’m not Mr. Money Mustache, and the basis of the Choose FI book.

Four of the people I like and respect most in the FIRE community, Brad Barrett, Doc G, Jillian Johnsrud, and JL Collins discussed this ongoing evolution of FIRE on the Earn & Invest podcast. It was a fantastic conversation that I highly recommend.

Enjoy and have a great month!

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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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