Recommended Books

I’ve been asked a couple times about book recommendations.  There’s an incredible amount of information available for free on the internet, but I wanted to provide a list of five of the most impactful books I’ve ever read.

Personal Development:

How to Win Friends and Influence People:  Dale Carnegie is a legend for a reason, his advice works. This is a must-read for anyone in a role that requires interacting with other people. The book was written before World War 2 and is not always the most politically correct, but learning how to take an interest in someone else and effectively communicate will help you throughout your career and life.

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Why the 4% rule will always work (Hint: Its about your spending)

I’m writing this after the Dow Jones industrial entered its first “correction” in over 24 months, experiencing a 10% drop from January 29th 2018 to February 8th, 2018.  I was walking through Costco this morning and remembered that feeling and a little bit of stress I had in 2009 about investing.   Our net worth just dropped by $80,000!   I don’t want to spend a dollar!    There have been a few other market pull backs in the last eight years, but we had less invested and the pain just wasn’t as much.

This really shouldn’t be a big deal, our Net Worth is back to where we were in November of 2017 and have only put a little bit in. It actually works out nicer if it stays low over the next few weeks because I’ll have a bonus payment to invest and it drops the tax hit on my restricted stock about to vest. Aside, I still found myself feeling just a little tighter…something I haven’t really remembered feeling since 2008-2009.  We’ve had other recessions, but we had a lot less invested and the pain wasn’t as large in nominal dollars.

This is a good reminder of something when it relates to the 4% rule:  Your spending will go down if the market goes down!   

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January: A month of gratitude!

Here I am, corporate suit guy (who hates ironing) that finally decides to start blogging. I was inspired by a few people I’ve followed and commented on for a while (Millennial Boss and Physician On Fire) and finally wanted to join in.  Millennial Boss writes from a perspective I can’t see as a lady in a male dominated industry.  Physician on FIRE is inspirational because I’m a finance guy, not a tech guy.  If an anesthesiologist can figure this stuff out, then I can too.  Now that I’m done with that tangent…

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Working Post FI: The Good and the Bad

I recently saw a question come up asking “What are the Pros and Cons of continuing to work after reaching Financial Independence?.   Many of us get into the One More Year scenario and then respond in different ways.  Some people can reduce their schedule to part time, others can really enjoy that final year, taking in the nostalgia of each event.   I am heading into my last year after reaching FI in early 2017 and wanted to share some experiences:

So tell me, what exactly do you do here?

The good stuff!

Prioritization:  We went through an issue that dragged on for a lot of 2017 that made working difficult.  We were exposed to other people going through this who also had financial stress and job worries.  We just didn’t have that stress, money was never a question.  It allowed focus on what’s important and break some of my workaholic tendencies.  I did what I could for work, but had a good team that I had helped build and trusted them to do their jobs. Continue reading “Working Post FI: The Good and the Bad”

Early Retirement Decisions: One More Year

One More Year….

I used to swear I would never be drawn into one more year.  Its been interesting to read how many people suffer from it.   It made no sense to me why people continued to work once they hit their number!  Well folks, now I’m there.  This isn’t written out to justify whatever decision we make, but outline all of the thoughts that go through your head as you approach that retirement date.

“I’m supposed to be sailing off into the sunset!  You forgot me!”

Lets outline the pretty obvious reasons to retire early!


Achievement of a life-long goal:   I knew at an early age I wanted to “never worry about money”.   I watched both my mom and dad struggle through money problems growing up, I realized money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having money creates unhappiness.   I scribbled “millionaire by 40” in early finance classes and calculated how long it would take on an old TI Financial Calculator.   I remember when an insecure boss threatened my job early in my career for speaking up and I said “I will never tolerate this again”.   Declaring early retirement is an accumulation of those goals. Continue reading “Early Retirement Decisions: One More Year”

Shirts Awards: Best Podcasts of December, 2017

This month was a big month for listening to Podcasts. In addition to “normal” listening, there were many podcasts consumed during thirty-six hours in the car plus excessive time at the gym thanks to spending the last two weeks of the year off of work (Yes, I am looking forward to doing this full time).

With that, let’s give some shirts outs!

Would you expect any other brand?

Fire Drill Podcast #32:  Savings Sherpa.  This month must have been Military Month, because the Fire Drill Podcast highlighted two personal finance writers, Saving-Sherpa and Military Dollar. Justin’s story over at Savings Sherpa was awesome, he discussed the power of the military housing allowance, the advantages of high cost of living areas, and how to charitably make a difference while still saving for FI.   I think he had the hosts and many listeners in tears for his work with Ciudad de Angeles.

Masters of Money:  Bonus Episode with Doug Nordman.    Doug is one of the original personal finance bloggers and I’ve interacted with him for years on various forums.   Doug has done a number of interviews,  but this was the first one where I heard him give career advice about the military that really applies to any person in life:  Look one or two jobs above you and ask “Are they having fun”?  This hit home for me because it properly describes where I’m at with my career, I don’t think anyone above me is “having fun”. You trade time for money in your career, never forget that. If you can’t enjoy what you’re doing, then figure out how to do something else.

Tonja @ Our Next Life  made a number of appearances and launched her own podcast with Kara @ BravelyGo.  She makes the list twice this month with two specific podcasts I wanted to highlight:

Do you even Blog? This was a different interview with Tonja, instead of the backstory or more common questions regarding personal finance, it was a discussion specifically about the Our Next Life blog.  Why someone should decide to blog?  Do it to build friends, do it to build relationships, then do it to provide good content.   What should people do more of?  Tell more stories about failure for authenticity. Go deeper in writing, don’t just do it to justify your own decisions. This was a great interview and highly recommended for anyone who follows her work.

Fairer Cents:  The Urge to Compare.   This is an impressive podcast that goes very deep into one of my favorite quotes, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”.   This is going to get its own post from me, but I enjoyed this discussion.  I know I’m personally way further down the libertarian side of liberal thought than Tonja, but the amount of common ground I found was surprising.    Interestingly after this podcast, there was also a post by ZeroDayFinance about “poor shaming” that got a ton of traction recently, it would be interesting to explore the evolving beliefs of personal finance writers.  My anecdotal view is the writers in their 20s tend to get more fired up on either side than those over 35.  Maybe that’s reality, or maybe that’s the lack of desire to argue with people over the internet.

Quote of the Month:

– Paula Pant was asked by a caller about “Firing a Financial Adviser who was a ‘friend’ ” on her Afford Anything podcast.   Her first response was incredible, “If they’re not willing to show up and help you move, then they’re not a friend”. That’s one way to figure out if your financial adviser is really a “friend”.  On a side note, if you need an adviser, pay them a flat fee for planning.  If they’re your friend, great, but they still deserve to be paid for their work.  Never pay a sales commission or a percentage of asset fee for investment advice.

Q4/Year End Net Worth Update

It is my favorite time of the year to update spreadsheets, I started keeping a snapshot of each year end as a reminder of the process we’re making. I wish I had done this from the beginning, but here is our Net Worth progression since 2011, all of these figures are at year-end:

2011:  $323,000

2012: $470,000

2013: $716,000

2014: $894,000

2015: $1,019,000

2016: $1,208,000

The acceleration from both progression in the career higher income and compound interest really shows through.

Now on to the update!

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What if everyone went to Index Investing? Profit from it!

Today might be the day that Mr. Shirts gets banned from the financial independence community, but how can you capitalize on the passive investment trend?  Passive investing pushes capital towards companies based solely on a public stock’s total value and nothing else.  We own some individual stocks, upwards of 20% of our portfolio.  Why?  Because there are occasionally opportunities for a long term investor to capitalize.

If you look at the major owners of public companies in their filings, specifically those that are no longer founder led, the top owners are usually the big four players in Index Funds

Vanguard Group

State Street (SPDR ETFs)

Blackrock (iShares ETFs)

FMR (Fidelity Group)

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Bubble Alert: Gold and Silver ruled 2012!

As the mania of Bitcoin continues (although it is down 33% from its highs as of December 22nd), I deliver to you the most recent bubble, precious metals. Ironically I’m writing this on a day where Gold is currently 30%+ off of its highs five years later and Bitcoin was down the same amount in one day!

Gold and Silver:  The last forty years.

Did I find this at the end of a rainbow?

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