August 2021 Best of the Web

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Being a natural saver can put you on the path to early retirement being a viable option. However, that propensity for building a portfolio can make spending from it a challenge. We’ll start with a couple of articles that will give you confidence to spend money in retirement to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Selected resources will help you make sense of topics that get a lot of hype in financial media. We also explore how to most effectively allocate your investment dollars and minimize investment fees. I also share a great resource to help you protect your portfolio, particularly as you age and this becomes more challenging.

Finally, with the air around me filled with wildfire smoke, I’ve found myself inside and in front of the TV far more than usual this month. I close out the selections with a thought provoking story about finding purpose and meaning after leaving a successful career.

Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Finding the Confidence to Spend

David Blanchett and Michael Fink explain Why Annuities Work Like a ‘License to Spend’ in Retirement.

Even if you’re an early retiree for whom Social Security is far off in the future and commercial annuities are not appropriate, this is an important topic to think about.

Karsten “Big ERN” Jeske does not feel this fear of spending. He argues that being more precise in your retirement planning, as opposed to ‘winging it,’ can allow you to retire sooner and more confidently, writing The Need for Precision in an Uncertain World.

Sizzle or Steak

The next articles will help you make sense of topics that currently get a lot of attention in financial media.

Jim Wang didn’t get the appeal of FIRE… until he took a deeper look. He writes, If You Don’t Understand the FIRE Movement, Read This. I agree with his recommendation to read this. He nailed it!

Michael Fink writes How the Crypto and Meme Bubbles Threaten Ordinary Investors.

I recently wrote about my skepticism of the direction Vanguard is drifting, including a recent acquisition that seems to move them further away from their founding values.

Ben Johnson and Susan Dziubinski ask Should You Follow Vanguard Into Direct Indexing? Johnson argues it “is neither direct nor indexing.”

Protect Yourself

Rick Ferri interviewed Lisa Braganca on the Bogleheads on Investing Podcast. It was an informative conversation about everything from bad investment advice to outright financial fraud, and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Investment Decisions

This month I shared how we developed and changed our investment policy statement and asset allocation. One issue we’ve struggled with is how much to allocate to cash.

Mike Piper asks and answers How Much Cash Should a Retirement Savings Portfolio Include?

One item our investment plan omits is saving and investing for long term care expenses. Christine Benz addresses this issue, writing The Best Place to Save for Long-Term Care Expenses.

The Impact of Fees

Investment fees are one variable we track in our portfolio. I advise you do the same and take prudent actions to control these fees that can sneakily decimate your portfolio over time.

Yet survey results published in InvestmentNews reveal Most Investors Don’t Understand Investment Costs.

If you don’t have a firm grasp on what your investment fees are or how to start figuring them out, Personal Capital has an outstanding Fee Analyzer to help you. 

Even if you have a firm grasp on investment expenses, the impact of expenses on your portfolio over time is not intuitive. Portfolio Charts has a new feature to demonstrate this impact and a corresponding article to explain why it is important. Tyler writes Measure the Expense Ratio to Maximize Your Leaky Portfolio.

Anyone who has bought or especially sold a home with a realtor is well aware of real estate transaction fees. Still this is the route most people go because going it alone is intimidating. Physician on FIRE writes Selling a Home by Owner Is Easier Than You Think.

Credit Card Rewards

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been highlighting the outstanding introductory offer of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, earned after you spend $4,000 in the three months after opening your account. This is an outstanding offer on my favorite travel rewards credit card.

If you’ve taken advantage of that offer or been on the fence, this will be of interest to you. Chase recently revealed new benefits for Sapphire holders.

If you’ve already earned the Sapphire Preferred sign up bonus or are looking for a great cash back card with no annual fee, Wells Fargo Active Cash ℠ Card is currently offering a $200 cash back bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. This is in addition to unlimited 2% cash back rewards on all spending on the card.

Too Much TV

I normally watch very little television. However, I found myself inside and glued to coverage of the Summer Olympic Games at the beginning of the month. I’ve also been watching events unfold in Afghanistan over the past couple weeks.

In my time watching TV, I uncovered a couple videos that will close out this month’s selections.

The first is a MassMutual commercial aimed to motivate people to save for their retirements. I normally despise commercials, especially those for financial services companies. But I cracked up every time this came on my TV.

Full disclosure, my amusement may be the product of being the parent of an 8 year old and living in a neighborhood filled with little kids. Either way there is an important message in here and it’s 30 seconds so check it out and judge for yourself.

The second is a longer feature story about sports writer Dave Kindred from 60 Minutes. I think it’s worth your time as well.

Kindred had a successful career as a sports writer, covering Super Bowls, World Series, Master’s golf championships, and Olympic Games for over four decades. He also had a fascinating relationship with Muhammed Ali, leading to Kindred writing a dual biography about Ali and Howard Cosell.

The 60 Minutes story shares struggles Kindred had later in life in retirement. The “life affirming” activity that now brings him joy and provides purpose and meaning may surprise you… and help you find your own.

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Valuable Resources

  • The Best Retirement Calculators can help you perform detailed retirement simulations including modeling withdrawal strategies, federal and state income taxes, healthcare expenses, and more. Can I Retire Yet? partners with two of the best.
  • Free Travel or Cash Back with credit card rewards and sign up bonuses.
  • Monitor Your Investment Portfolio
    • Sign up for a free Personal Capital account to gain access to track your asset allocation, investment performance, individual account balances, net worth, cash flow, and investment expenses.
  • Our Books

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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]

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