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Weeks to live

We had a potentially serious health scare earlier this year and it helped a bit of perspective on a lot of what I’ve been doing.

I would never wish that type of stress on anyone but it offers a good reminder of the tenuousness of life.

Our first post is one that was published more than 2 years ago and the author, Elliot Dallen, passed away on the day it was published.

At 31, I have just weeks to live. Here’s what I want to pass on [The Guardian] – “… the human body is a wonderful thing. You only appreciate this when it starts to fail you. So when you find yourself slipping into autopilot, catch yourself, and take simple pleasure in movement, if you can. Look after your body because it’s the only one you have, and it’s bloody brilliant. Knowing that my life was going to be cut short has also changed my perspective on ageing. Most people assume they will live into old age. I have come to see growing old as a privilege. Nobody should lament getting one year older, another grey hair or a wrinkle. Instead, be pleased that you’ve made it. If you feel like you haven’t made the most of your last year, try to use your next one better.”

Cash is King – and the Queen, Jack, and definitely the Joker [Accidentally Retired] – “You don’t need to save for anything in particular. You just need to save. The more you save, the better you’ll hedge yourself against life. Before I had ever read Morgan Housel’s wise words on saving, my wife and I instinctively held 2-3 years’ worth of cash at all times. It wasn’t always this way, but over time, we built up our cash cushion to give us the hedge we needed against my entrepreneurial career – and life in general.”

How to Invest Like the 1% [A Wealth of Common Sense] – “A lot of investors assume once you amass a large fortune that you’re welcomed into some secret club that unlocks the holy grail of investment opportunities. Sure, there are plenty of really rich people who invest in excluding, expensive, complex strategies but the majority of the wealthy class has most of their money in normal asset classes like stocks and bonds. Here’s a piece I wrote for Fortune about how the top 1% invest their money.”

IRS building its own tax filing system?

It seems like every few months, there’s another story about the IRS offering a free tax filing system and the tax preparers getting upset about it. 🙂

When will we have it for real? I’ll believe it when I see it!

The IRS is building its own online tax filing system. Tax-prep companies aren’t happy [NPR] – “The IRS is developing a system that would let taxpayers send electronic returns directly to the government for free, sidestepping commercial options such as TurboTax.”

I think a retirement mastermind group is a brilliant idea!

What I’ve Learned From My Retirement Mastermind Group [The Retirement Manifesto] – “He’s just one of 7 really smart guys that now comprise our Retirement Mastermind Group. We launched the group in January and have been meeting once a month ever since. I suspect we’ll be meeting together for years. Each of the meetings has been unique, and that’s all part of the plan.”

The Pitfalls of Playing the Stock Market: Why Index Funds Win Every Time [Accidentally Retired] – “My mini-retirement had finally given me the time to really learn more about investing, and after taking many months to soak up as much knowledge as I could…it all led me to the conclusion that low-cost index investing is the simplest and easiest way to earn better than average returns.”

The Mansion Next Door

As we glide into the weekend, where presumably you’ll be spending more time at home, I wanted to share a post I enjoyed this morning before I put this post together. It’s good to get a little perspective every once and a while.

The Mansion Next Door [Accidentally Retired] – “But there is a way to battle back against FOMO and Keeping Up With the Joneses…that is to constantly remind yourself that you already have everything.”

More Than Enough [Humble Dollar] – “IF YOU’RE LIKE MANY readers of this site, you’ll reach your 60s and discover one of those nice problems to have—that you’ve over-saved for retirement.”

Need some sci-fi reading ideas? (I was surprised at #1 tbh)

The 50 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time [Esquire] – “Plenty of imitators have tried to match the heights of our No.1, but none have come close. […] Choosing the fifty best science fiction books of all time wasn’t easy, so to get the job done, we had to establish some guardrails. Though we assessed single installments as representatives of their series, we limited the list to one book per author. We also emphasized books that brought something new and innovative to the genre; to borrow a great sci-fi turn of phrase, books that “boldly go where no one has gone before.””

Enjoy the weekend!

The Nothingness of Money

The Nothingness of Money [More to That] – “Nothing passes through the great wall of death. Whether you’re a billionaire or a homeless person, everything goes to null in the face of the great equalizer. The only thing you may be able to preserve is a legacy, but that legacy is for other conscious minds to perceive, which is no longer a luxury you have upon hitting that wall.”

When Will AI Take Your Job? [Uncharted Territories] – “Naturally, many people fear for their job. But this fear is not new. It’s been here since the Industrial Revolution. Ten years ago, Frey and Osborne rekindled it when they claimed that nearly half of jobs were at risk of automation. In the last few months, this fear has exploded with the arrival of AIs like those of ChatGPT. New papers suggest that these technologies spell danger for telemarketers, teachers, lawyers, psychologists, mathematicians, accountants, proofreaders, assistants… Which jobs are really going to suffer? How can we know?”

12 Rules to Break on Your Path to Wealth AND Happiness [Accidentally Retired] – “I retired at 36. Yet, I never worked over 40 hours a week, rarely traveled for business, and changed careers multiple times. I ignored society’s rules.”

Finding balance

Finding balance in life is always challenging because we always tend to focus on one thing. That’s literally the definition of focus.

When you try to juggle too many things at once, you’ll inevitably drop some. And when it comes to finding balance in life and family and health and everything else, you don’t want to drop any of them. You want to keep them up in the air.

But it’s impossible.

Family vs Work: The Everlasting Struggle for Balance [Accidentally Retired] – “After having kids, AND taking on the CEO role for my company all within the same time period, it became clear that there was going to be a push and pull between work and family. But no matter what I tried, my mental focus continued to drift back to the urgent, pressing, and hard to solve problems of running a company. The longer this went on for, the more clear it was becoming that something was going to give.”

Health Care Sharing Ministries: Understanding the Risks and Bankruptcy Examples [My Money Blog] – “Back in 2020, I wrote a post Do Not Buy List: Healthcare Sharing Ministry As Health Insurance Alternative. Although they may present a lower-cost option that even aligns with your faith, they can also contain hidden and unpredictable risks. Since then, membership has grown but many have also found themselves stuck with large and unexpected unpaid bills.” Jonathan has not been a fan of healthcare sharing ministries… I can now see why.

Here’s the main article he cites in his piece:

A Christian Health Nonprofit Saddled Thousands With Debt as It Built a Family Empire Including a Pot Farm, a Bank and an Airline [ProPublica] – “Despite a history of fraud, one family has thrived in the regulatory no man’s land of health care sharing ministries, where insurance commissioners can’t investigate, federal agencies turn a blind eye and prosecutors reach paltry settlements.”

Reflections on the impact of the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ 15 years later

It dawned on me recently that I’ve been blogging full-time for almost 13 years. I went full-time on my first blog in 2010.

I’d been working on it for five years before that too and it was in those years that Tim Ferriss published the 4-Hour Workweek. I’d read it and enjoy the messages within and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say it pushed me to go full-time, there’s no doubt it planted a seed that it was possible.

Our first post is a look at the impact of Ferriss’ book, 15 years after it was written:

The Great Contemplation: Reflections on the impact of the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ 15 years later [Every] – “Ferriss offered a powerful alternative script that inspired millions around the world to escape the default path, travel the world, take mini-retirements, start businesses, and take breaks from work. However, these people embraced their new paths in direct opposition to the 20th-century industrial economy “organization man” paradigm that still had a strangle-hold over the popular imagination, well into the 2010s. Even if you followed Ferriss’s playbook and found a path you enjoyed, it was likely that many people in your life still thought you were a bit crazy (raises hand). This is what drew people to leave cities organized around big companies and full-time work to escape to nomadic communities around the world, like Bali; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Medellin, Colombia; and Las Palmas, Spain.”

Living a Life of Luxury [Accidentally Retired] – “Despite knowing my enough, I still want to live a life of luxury at times. I want to splurge when the moment needs splurging. And I want to cut back, when the moment calls to cut back. This is what I am talking about, when I say ‘find your balance,'”

This next one is courtesy of J.D., who appears to be getting more curmudgeon-y in his elder years, but this one is well warranted. Places where “tip” appears has gotten out of hand but now these additional fees (which are not optional) are ridiculous.

Perfidious Pricing [Passing Time] – “As the conversation winds down, the waitress returns with the check and a small placard. “If you haven’t been here recently, I wanted to let you know that we attach a 20% Fair Wage and Wellness Fee to all orders. This sheet of paper explains it. It’s… not a tip.” She slides the paper across the table and, somewhat embarrassedly, adds, “If you have any questions, please let me know.””

Default mode

Default mode matters a lot. Too many people accept the default option and so we should design systems in which the default mode is better for user, if all other things are kept equal.

Also, recognizing default mode is important if you want to avoid making big mistakes in your life. There are a lot of bad default options.

Default Mode [Accidentally Retired] – “Whether it is a default presented to you in your favorite app, the on-boarding for a new job, or in every day life. We accept the default. What administrators, app developers, or healthcare providers choose for our defaults can make a huge difference.”

Why It’s So Tough to Save Money When You’re Poor [Money Ning] – “We can all agree that living paycheck-to-paycheck is not an ideal situation. And it’s just as obvious that individuals doing this still need to save their money and build a financial cushion so they can finally feel secure. Unfortunately, the basic rules of saving money are simple but not easy – particularly if you’re already behind the financial ball. Here are three reasons why it’s so difficult for people in poverty to improve their situation…”

That new watch really makes you less likeable [Klement on Investing] – “I don’t think I will surprise anyone when I say that the studies showed that people who posted about the stuff they bought were rated as less likable than people who posted without mentioning a recent purchase. But people who were showing off their material purchases also were less liked than people who posted about their experiential purchases. And, importantly, whether people were posting about material purchases or experiential purchases, they become less likable the more often they posted about their purchases. The people who posted without mentioning any purchases, on the other hand, became more likable over time.” More accurately, posting about how you just got a new watch makes you less likeable.

This Isn’t Your Grandparents’ Recession.

Wednesday is our favorite day of the week. Why? Because the Plutus team gets to showcase top money stories with you. So, prop your iPad up, sip on your coffee, and enjoy these great articles. See you next Wednesday!

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

Cash Management in Early Retirment. [Accidentally Retired] — “Cash management in early retirement has turned out to be a rather stressful endeavor. When I first left negotiated my severance and left corporate America it was easy to know that I still had money coming in for awhile. But eventually all gravy train runs dry, and then I was left figuring out an action…” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

This Isn’t Your Grandparents’ Recession. [Surviving and Thriving] — “When the going gets tough, it’s tempting to invoke our grandparents and their tribulations during the Great Depression. I’m about to commit cultural heresy: A lot of their advice wouldn’t help us.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

7 Things I Don’t Regret Spending Money on as a Minimalist. [Rich What Matters] — “The deeper I’ve journeyed into minimalism, the more purposeful my purchasing behavior has become. What I spend money on now communicates what I value and supports my life.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

Does Early Retirement Impact Happiness?

The answer might seem obvious to you (yes?) but it’s not always so clear. I know a lot of folks who retire and find themselves listless and not knowing what to do next.

But there are others who have a laundry list of things they’ve always wanted to do and are thrilled they now have the time to pursue them!

So the answer is quite personal, but still worth seeing how others are navigating it.

The blogger behind Accidentally Retired has been tracking his happiness for about three years with his Happiness Tracker Spreadsheet, and armed with that data he takes a look at whether this retirement impacted his happiness.

Happiness Revisited: did early retirement have an impact? [Accidentally Retired] – “If there is one large lesson I have learned in the last year, it is that though my happiness has continued to improve, I still have to choose to do the things to make me happy. FIRE affords you the freedom to stack great days together, but you don’t have to be retired to get the benefits of focusing on happiness one day at a time:”

The lesson here is that if you’re interested, get the free tracker sheet and give it a shot.

This next post might be a little too “Inside Baseball” since it’s about a massive wealth management firm buying a robo-advisor, but I thought it was interesting to see how the pros view the actions of even bigger businesses:

Why Is UBS Buying a Robo for $1.4B? [ThinkAdvisor] – “Welsh saw it as ironic that Wealthfront had set out to “disrupt advisors and traditional wealth management via technology” but has now “sold the business to a 160-year-old bank and wirehouse — just the people they claimed were evil and had targeted to disrupt.”” I don’t know enough about the industry to even guess but I was surprised, much like some of the experts quoted in this piece.

I found this next video super fascinating – Wendover Productions explains How Long Haul Trucking Works:

Collections are often about the people who collect them, not the collection itself

The only NFTs I own are a few NBA Top Shot, the digital version of a sports collectible card. Basketball is my favorite sport to play, one of my favorite to watch, and I’ve been a long suffering New York Knicks fan… so I “get” why someone would get into NBA Top Shot and sports related NFTs.

I don’t fully “get” the other NFT projects just like I don’t get collectors of Hummel dolls, Beanie Babies, paraphernalia from your favorite band (Beatles!), etc. But I “get” why people do it and that’s good enough for me.

Here’s an alternate explanation that also makes sense to me:

I Collect Cashflows [The Reformed Broker] – “I collect shares of businesses. Been doing it since my late teens. Not always successfully. I use a certain type of non fungible token called a stock certificate for this. I never lay hands on the certificate, it’s in digital form, living somewhere in the multiverse. A company called DTC makes sure the shares I’ve bought are the shares I get. And then I hold them. Sometimes I will trade them for digital dollars that I also don’t ever see or touch, but then soon after I am trading those dollars for another pile of virtual stock certificates. People will say “You’re crazy, why would you want to buy a fraction of a company you will never touch and hold in your hands?” And I’m like “You just don’t understand.””

This next post is good advice on security:

How to keep your money, investments, and cryptocurrency secure; preventing hacking, phishing and other nefarious scams [Accidentally Retired] – “I want to preface all this by saying that even if you are doing everything correctly, there is still going to be some level of risk that you take simply by using the internet. This is similar to the type of risk that you take every time you get into a car. But nevertheless, the risk is still there.”

Alicia Keys – Songs I Wish I Wrote (LIVE at the 61st GRAMMYs) is a really fun video and shows just how some artists, especially Alicia Keys, are truly next level: