December Round Up

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Each month I want to share the best highlights of the month:   What were my favorite articles on the web, tweets, and books that I have read over the last month.

Career Growth:

I credit growing my income in a corporate environment for allowing me to retire much younger than the average person.  John @ ESI money features a defense industry executive in his Millionaire Interview 161.  There is some great advice here on what it takes to grow your career to the c-suite or near c-suite level in management.

Market Highs & Secure Act:

All time highs in the market are both exciting and scary.   Human nature tells us we want to be wary of the peaks.  What if I don’t sell at the top? What happens if I retire at the top?  Did you know the market experienced 225 all time highs in the last decade?

The SECURE Act recently passed congress and was signed into law in December.   Overall the changes seem positive, but the elimination of the Stretch IRA for those who’ve already put some estate planning in place is problematic.  So is the potential for abuse with annuities being allowed inside 401k plans.  Blair duQuesnay gives an overview of both the good and the bad out of the changes.

What is the first year of Financial Independence and Early Retirement like?  Adam at Minifi reviews his first year of freedom, including what he would and wouldn’t do differently one year in.

Is CoastFI taking off?

CNBC wrote about the cities that Americans are flocking to for jobs.  80% of this list were areas that I see come up time and time again in the financial independence community:  Austin, TX, Coastal SC, and Denver/Northern Colorado dominated eight of the ten spots. This is a reminder about the concept of CoastFI – consider moving to where you want to be before reaching full financial independence.  These are three incredible job markets with a nice lifestyle to go with it. In an upcoming reader case study we’ll explore the opportunity a reader had to CoastFI earlier than expected thanks to the strong job market.

Best Tweet of the Month

This was a response to my frustration about losing touch with former work friends.  Sometimes friendship is built through mutual battle and they are still fighting a battle that I’m no longer a part of.

 Jose is a fellow 2019 early retiree and I couldn’t agree more with his statement.

What I’ve Been Reading:

December allowed me to work through two of the bestselling novels of the 20th century:  The Fountainhead and A Brave New World.

The Fountainhead:  It took me a while to get through The Fountainhead and I didn’t enjoy the slow, plodding story line to the extent I liked Atlas Shrugged.  The 1920s – 1930s setting was tougher to follow but I still took two messages out of the book to sit with me:

Message #1:  Are you living your life for yourself or for others? Does approval of others drive your happiness? This is an important question today in the world of social media followers, friends, likes, and retweets. We have apps on our phone specifically designed to hit you with the “approval of others”.  This is similar to Cal Newport’s message in Digital Minimalism.

I also thought about this message in relation to my former career in sales….which is to some extent success equaling likes. People had to like/approve of me to do business with me.  I would be immensely frustrated in my profession when customers would choose who they did business with based on a country club membership vs the quality of work someone would do. I had a different path at times since I let the quality of work and not social connections do my personal marketing.

Ultimately I need to remember the same thing about having a blog.  It’s not about who gets the most likes for some outrageous statement on twitter.  Results are ultimately measured in readers, followers, page views/sessions, and revenue.  Ultimately I have to focus on the quality of content I put out more than anything else.

Message #2:  Be wary of those who speak of sacrifice.  The primary agitator in the novel explained his source of power with the reference of “When someone speaks of sacrifice, they speak of slaves and masters, and they intend on being the master.”  This is important to remember, whether it’s the power dynamic of work talking about “sacrificing” with a small raise pool or a politician seeking more power through our “sacrifice” of individual freedom or money.  Be cautious of the power that someone is implying they have or want to have when they speak of sacrifice. When it comes to an employer, remember that financial independence can change that power dynamic.

A Brave New World is Adlophus Huxly’s sci-fi novel from the 1931 written during the rise of fascism in Europe.  It is wild to read this novel almost ninety years later. Companies are out there working on gene editing therapy that could have the same potential Huxley imagined in the book.  The citizens of the “new world” have the ability to take a “Soma Holiday”, where the soma pills are eerily similar and addictive to today’s benzodiazepines. I happened to be finishing this over the Christmas holiday and my in-laws commented that it was required literature reading when they were in high school.   It’s interesting this wasn’t required reading for me in high school twenty years ago.

I also picked up a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 and have Fahrenheit 451 on my reading list, but I’m considering taking a break from the dystopian fiction for a couple of months and I’m always open to good book recommendations.

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One Reply to “December Round Up”

  1. Haven’t touched The Fountainhead yet. I still haven’t even finished Atlas Shrugged. I listen to audiobooks on my commute via the Overdrive app. I didn’t even get through the book before I had to return it 😂

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