It’s no surprise your job feels like a prison after reading many personal finance blogs. It has become a rite of passage for many early retirement (ER) bloggers to declare their freedom from the ‘chains’ of corporate life. After all, being free from what 99% of the world’s salaried class are doing every day certainly gives an early retiree the bragging rights. At times, the financially independent ER bloggers seem like the real 1% as we remain part of the 99%.
If you are well aware of the retirement crisis in the first world or worried about your own retirement, then you have come to the right place. In an earlier post, we saw how a simple decision to rent, while giving you the opportunity to be globally mobile, can help accelerate your journey towards financial independence. Once you learn to move and thrive in your new role for work in a new place, you will not worry about doing the same in retirement to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Let’s face it. Americans, and for that matter, most of the western world, are ill-prepared for their retirement. Reading ER blogs and personal finance websites will not give you the real picture as the authors and commentators are a progressive bunch who, collectively, are better off financially than others. The real truth, of course, is scary. In this post, I analyze two charts from a well-researched American study to explain what this means to you and why you should care.
A scoreboard keeps us engaged in the game. As a player, you need to focus on the game and not on the scoreboard, but once in a while, it helps to lift your head up to see what the score is, so you can change your game accordingly. A scoreboard also keeps us grounded, gives us a chance to pat ourselves on the back when we are doing well, or say meh when we are doing just OK and importantly, give us a kick in the shins (not this shins) or in the a** if you prefer, when we need to catch up.
The 19th century mathematician Carl Gustav Jacobi is attributed to have said “Invert, Always Invert!”. His words never had it so good until recently. His name and work might have forever remained within the cocoon of academic mathematics if not for his quote made famous in recent times by Charlie Munger. The modern life application of Jacobi’s urging covers all forms of societal, economic and even personal issues where the concept of inversion can be useful. The concept can be applied at a global level or at an individual level. For example, the question “How do we increase our country’s exports?” can be inverted as “What are all the ways by which we can reduce our exports?”.
In the pursuit of financial independence (FI), you will have to deal with frugality. Frugality, like many things in life, is relative. I always find it curious to read how someone can live under $10,000 a year or under $15,000 a year with family (in a developed country. This qualifier is important because these figures are a comfortable middle class income in many developing countries). I read such articles more to understand the full extent of human ability to shrink their expense footprint beyond what many consider as feasible.
One of the common themes among self-improvement seminars, self-help gurus and life coach experts is this idea that you are limiting yourself by working in a job and that you must own your own business. The clarion call for entrepreneurship is tempting indeed. One well-known blogger has built a thriving business telling others to create their own business and not to be the ‘slave’ by working in a job. Personal development is critical for everyone, but do you have to start a business to develop yourself?
When it comes to a home, most people look at buy vs. rent decision in isolation. Mainstream finance magazines contribute to this thinking by presenting the numbers of buy vs. rent decision as if those direct costs are the only ones that matter. Some bloggers take this discussion forward (but barely) by including the opportunity cost of investing the down payment or other exclusive house-related costs in an S&P 500 index fund. This is still incomplete. Few people consider the bigger opportunity cost of home ownership while working in a corporate career.
Elections are an exciting time in a democracy – campaign rallies, conventions, debates, allegations, mud-slinging and fund-raising. The end objective is to earn the investment (vote) of as many citizens as possible. Amidst all the hoopla, one only hopes that truth and fair process get a chance to influence voters on the best candidate to lead the country. This Presidential election season in U.S. has moved up the excitement scale, mainly due to the polar opposite candidates fielded by both major parties.
Col. Jessup: I ordered his assets be transferred off the base as I believe his investing life is in danger. Lt. Kaffee: You mean his investing is not value investing? Col. Jessup: Is there another kind? Lt. Kaffee: What about growth investing, dividend investing, momentum investing and investing in distressed assets? Col. Jessup: Son, I […]