October 2018 Best of the Web

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October has been a crazy month in the world of finance. The stock markets have been volatile and trending downward. In the past week, the market gave up all of its gains for the year to that point. Many wonder if this could be the start of a bear market.

In the personal finance world, the idea of financial independence and retiring early (FIRE) is spreading through mainstream media like, well … fire.

But not everyone is buying. Suze Orman gave FIRE the “Suze slapdown.” She said of FIRE, “I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And let me tell you why.” She highlighted literally everything that could go wrong if you retire too early. In the process, Orman showed that becoming a personal finance guru is far more about generating controversy and buzz through sensationalism and fear mongering than giving solid financial advice.

Our articles also look at a different framework for dealing with what many perceive as the biggest challenge and risk to an early retiree, planning for health insurance.

With those themes in mind, this month’s articles feature a lot of discussion of risk management. Enjoy!

Same Old, Same Old?

The market is nearing correction territory. Christine Benz writes, Guess What? It May Actually Be Different This Time. She highlights why one size advice can’t fit all.

Ben Carlson offers some Undervalued Financial Advice which is prudent regardless of market conditions.

Bogle on Investing

Christine Benz makes our list a second time this month for her talk with the Vanguard founder in which she learned What Jack Bogle Expects from the Market.

In the inaugural episode of the Boglehead’s on Investing Podcast, Rick Ferri did a fascinating long form interview with John Bogle.

The Suze Slapdown

Paula Pant interviewed Suze Orman for her podcast. Orman shared in no uncertain terms Why She Hates the FIRE Movement.

Many voices in the FIRE community offered a rebuttal, including this even handed analysis from Chad Carson who writes What Suze Orman Got Wrong About the FIRE Movement.

R.I.P. Paul Allen

In sad news this month, Paul Allen lost a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Allen’s passing demonstrates two points far better than anyone in the FIRE community can to rebut Orman’s rant about everything that can go wrong if you retire early.

  1. No matter how much money you have, no amount can insulate you from everything that can possibly go wrong. Allen was one of the wealthiest men on the planet. He died at 65, which is generally accepted as “normal” retirement age. Life comes with no guarantees.
  2. The true benefit of gaining financial independence early in life is not to retire to a life of sitting on a beach, playing golf, or however else we’re conditioned to view retirement. Financial independence gives you the option to leave a job or career you no longer want to do and live a life of meaning and impact. No one can argue Allen’s impact throughout his life; first as an innovator with Microsoft, then through his encore business endeavors and as a philanthropist who reportedly gave over $2 billion during his lifetime.

Allen certainly seems to have packed a lot of life into his 65 years. We would all be wise to try to do the same with whatever gifts we’ve been given.

Managing Risk

While we can’t eliminate risk from a retirement plan, we can manage it. From the Vanguard blog, here are The 5 Major Risks You Face in Retirement with strategies to manage them.

Michael Kitces does a deep dive into one of those risks, writing Getting Real About (Annual) Health Care Costs in Retirement.

Morgan Housel is an amazing writer and thinker . He proposes a new paradigm for Risk Management.

Taking Risk to a New Level

Darrow and I met in Moab, UT last week to discuss the future of the blog and enjoy some outdoor adventures.

During the course of our conversations, Darrow highly recommended I see the new National Geographic documentary Free Solo (trailer, 360° bonus footage and screening locations can be found at link). It documents the amazing physical and mental achievement of Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan without a partner or the protection of a rope or gear.

Side note: Our “outdoor adventures” look absolutely nothing like Honnold’s. That said, we did ride the ultra-classic Porcupine Rim trail together. As a novice mountain biker, completing the trail in one piece was an accomplishment for me!

We’ll close with an interesting read from Dave at the blog Accidental FIRE. He writes What Alex Honnold Can Teach Us About Living.

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