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Early Retirement Resources 10/30/2023

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This month we start with an article that provides a framework for thinking about optimizing retirement income. Then we’ll explore timely strategies that can be applied to this framework.

I explore last year’s hot investment topic, I Bonds, to see if they still have relevancy for investors today. Then we’ll switch our attention to a timeless topic, spending volatility in retirement, which tends to get too little attention.

Resources explore the ideas of derisking your retirement and the difference between complexity and diversification.

These resources can drastically impact your finances. I encourage you to read to the end for an idea that can impact the legacy you leave for future generations.

Retirement Income

BlackRock recently published a white paper titled How to optimize retirement income. This is a relatively short and easy to read paper that applies the work of some of the top retirement researchers, so it is worth your time.

My objection to this strategy in real world applications is the reliance on annuities. Annuities can be extremely complex and unnecessarily expensive. Even the “good” annuities are challenging to navigate and are not without risk, most notably inflation risk.

This brings me to the next article. It provides an alternative approach to using annuities as a compliment to Social Security to create an income floor. This particular strategy didn’t make sense a few years ago, but is particularly attractive in today’s interest rate environment.

John Rekenthaler writes High TIPS Yields Are a Retiree’s Best Friend.

Hot TIPS

TIPS are a hot topic generally in personal finance circles these days. For those of you still in accumulation mode Allan Roth says TIPs aren’t just for retirees, writing Beat Inflation Handily, and Risk Free.

The strategies in each of the above articles involve purchasing an individual TIPS or multiple individual TIPS to build a ladder. This adds a layer of complexity. Roth lays out A Case for BlackRock’s New Defined Maturity TIPS ETFs that can make implementing these strategies easier. Note that they are not a perfect solution. As of now, they are only offered for issues maturing in each of the next 10 years.

Cooling on I Bonds?

At this time last year, I Bonds were drawing similar attention to that currently being given to TIPS, even though they had a fixed rate of 0% for 30 years. This week we will know what the fixed rate will be for newly issued I Bonds for the next six months. David Enna projects that the fixed rate will likely be between 1.1 and 1.4%.

Few people are excited about I Bonds now. TIPS have a fixed rate about a full percent higher. However, I will be watching and am considering buying my allotment for 2023 as a place to hold cash that I won’t need for a least a year.

There is still something attractive about a safe investment for cash with no defined use-by date with no interest rate risk, a guaranteed positive real return, and tax deferral. And as we learned last year when people would have loved to own more I Bonds, you are limited in how much you can buy in a given year.

Spending Volatility

Sudipto Banerjee encourages Planning for Spending Volatility in Retirement. His report shows retirement spending is choppy as opposed to most modeling which considers constant spending adjusted for inflation. He also reports that housing is the primary source of this spending volatility.

Jonathan Clements got very personal writing Growing Pains. Despite being one of the most thoughtful writers on personal finance he shared having to endure multiple spending shocks including issues related to an unplanned home sale and unexpectedly remodeling a new one which is consistent with the report above. He also has had to weather a divorce, a failed business, and multiple bear markets.

Kudos to this true expert for sharing the warts of his journey in a world of social media influencers posing as experts. I highly recommend giving this a read.

Rethinking Retirement

Meg Bartelt advises you Live Off a Combination of Investment Income and Job Income, and Put Less Pressure On Both. The example she shares is based on a very high income household. However, the principle is exactly the same as the concept of redundancy I’ve written about and utilized in our own planning with a lower cost lifestyle.

Diversification vs. Complexity

Moira O’Neill addresses a question I’ve commonly encountered over the past few months since I’ve started doing financial planning with clients, particularly those who were already working with an investment advisor. She writes Diversification: is 30 funds too many?

Leaving a Legacy

Steve Lopez writes In Senator Feinstein’s death, lessons for all of us about when to leave work behind. In our hyperpartisan world, I feel like my inclusion of this article about a U.S. sentaor deserves a brief explanation.

Despite the subject of the article being a politician, the article itself is in no way political. It is very thought provoking and well written. I encourage you to check it out with an open mind.

I often like to close out these “Best of” posts by sharing something I’ve been reading that is fun, inspiring, thought-provoking, and/or touching. What I will close with today can be described with all of those adjectives and many more. But I don’t have a link to share.

My mom passed away in April of this year. As my dad was cleaning out her closet he came upon a notebook of letters she had written, unbeknownst to any of us, to my daughter. When he came to visit us earlier this month he gave us the notebook.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a few letters at a time to my daughter. Long forgotten memories are brought back front of mind as we reminisce. We always laugh as we read. Many nights we cry. 

The first two definitions of legacy in the Oxford dictionary are:

  1. An amount of money or property left to someone in a will
  2. The long-lasting impact of particular events, actions, etc. that took place in the past or of a person’s life.

In the world of personal finance, most of the attention focuses on the first definition. I share this little anecdote about love letters from a grandmother to her granddaughter today to remind you to not forget about the second and to go create it.

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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 chris@caniretireyet.com. Financial planning inquiries can be sent to chris@abundowealth.com]

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