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Leaves Me Cold

ALTHOUGH IT’S ONLY been a few months since I first heard the term, I’m already tired of all the chatter about the financial independence/retire early (FIRE) movement. This so-called movement is so irrelevant that I don’t know why anybody, including me, writes about it—and yet my curmudgeonly instincts compel me to do so.
Don’t characterize me as a movement hater. To each his own. But consider a recent story in MarketWatch about a couple—he’s age 44,

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Making It Work

I’M ONE OF THE LUCKY Americans with a pension. I know firsthand the sense of financial security that comes with steady monthly income.
Others don’t have it so easy. I worry a great deal about the majority of Americans—including my four children—who have no pension, and instead will rely on Social Security and their investments for their retirement income. My fear: Even if these folks are saving regularly, they don’t really understand how to invest or how to manage their nest egg once retired.

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What Withdrawal Rate?

AS BOND YIELDS HAVE fallen in recent decades and stock market valuations have climbed, some experts have suggested that the standard 4% portfolio withdrawal rate may be too high—and that retirees who spend that much risk running out of money.
A refresher: The 4% rule assumes retirees withdraw that portion of their nest egg’s value in the first year of retirement. Any dividends and interest payments that are spent count toward the 4%. After the first year,

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Grab the Roadmap

FINANCIAL SECURITY is within your reach. Don’t believe me? Here’s a roadmap that demonstrates it’s possible for most Americans.
Sam is a 22-year-old college graduate. He begins working right after college, earning $50,000 a year. He saves 20% of his income the first year, equal to $10,000. Each year, he gets a 2% raise. This raise is over and above inflation, which we’ll assume is zero to keep things simple. In addition to saving $10,000 a year,

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Stress Test

IN THE FIELD of epidemiology, researchers have long used the term “tipping point” to describe how epidemics occur. At first, an ordinary disease moves slowly, not gaining much attention. But then, seemingly overnight, it snowballs into something far larger.
Within the world of public health, this concept is well understood. But about 20 years ago, the author Malcolm Gladwell took a closer look and pointed out that tipping points can be found in a whole host of other situations far beyond epidemiology.

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Winning the Game

BY ALL ACCOUNTS, I’ve won the game. I know the income my family needs to live our desired lifestyle. I have an inflation-adjusted Navy pension in my future. I have two children and two GI Bills, one for each child. My house is paid off and I’m debt-free. Combine all of this with the 4% rule, and it seems I have enough to produce our desired income for the rest of my life. I have “won the game.”
William Bernstein. 

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A Morbid Game

THERE ARE MANY WHO claim to speak with authority on Social Security.  I am not one of them. But I’m nothing if not curious. I recently set about testing some notions I have heard with regard to Social Security retirement benefits. A family member had asked for help understanding her Social Security statement, so I had some real numbers to work with. The statement predicted that her monthly benefits would be as follows, depending on when she begins benefits:

$1,907 at age 62.

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Playing the Spread

HOW LONG WILL YOU live? A recent study from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research noted that, “A healthy 65-year old man in an employer pension plan has a 25% chance of dying by age 78, or of living to age 91 or beyond.”
Think about the dilemma this creates if you’re retiring at age 65. Even if you are in the middle 50% of the male population—neither among the 25% who die early in retirement nor among the 25% who live well into their 90s—your retirement could last just 13 years or it could be double that,

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November’s Hits

IF THERE’S ANYTHING to be learned from our monthly list of the most popular articles and blog posts, it’s this: Among HumbleDollar’s readers, the two most enduring interests are retirement and the financial markets. Here are November’s 10 best-read pieces:

Planning to move to a retirement community when you quit the workforce? Ron Wayne takes a look at one of the most famous—The Villages in Central Florida.
As we age, our capacity to make sound financial decisions often wanes.

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Through the Ages

WHEN I WAS IN MY 20s, I was lucky to work for a company that offered a pension plan—and that put me on the road to retirement. Today, unfortunately, company pensions are rare. How can you ensure a comfortable retirement? Try shooting for these age-related milestones:
Age 25. Start saving at least 15% of your gross income. As I mentioned in an earlier article, a Fidelity Investments study found that if you save 15% of your gross income every year from age 25 through 67,

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Never Simple

WHEN ROSS PEROT RAN for president in 1992, a pillar of his campaign was tax reform. Federal tax rules, he pointed out, had grown to more than 80,000 pages. His proposal: Start over and replace everything with a simple flat tax.

Perot’s campaign for tax reform didn’t make much progress, but many can sympathize with his frustration. Because of the complexity of tax rules, financial planning often ends up feeling like the children’s game Operation—with penalties for even the slightest misstep and confusion around every corner.

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America the Drivable

I’M BASICALLY A BORING kind of guy. I’ve been known to fall asleep during a raging house party. But when it comes to travel, you’ll find me wide awake. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Given the hassle of international travel right now, Connie and I decided to see more of the U.S., rambling from state to state, planning no more than a day or so in advance.

We’ve just finished our third cross-country road trip since 2014.

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There Be Monsters

I’VE BEEN AWAY FROM the HumbleDollar community for a while. Jiab and I are working on a new book about media literacy, examining the effects of social media influencers on youth consumerism. It will teach kids about responsible web use and how to avoid the traps of the online world.
I’ve learned a lot myself, including lessons that apply both online and IRL, short for “in real life.” As part of our research,

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Making Lemonade

YOU KNOW IT’S BEEN a rotten year for investors when it’s time to brush up on the rules for tax-loss harvesting. It’s one way to turn negative returns to your advantage, provided you act before year-end.
If you have taxable investments that have lost value this year—and who doesn’t? —the basic idea is to sell them in 2022 to lower the taxes you owe. Realized losses can be used to offset any investment gains you’ve realized this year.

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Not Contagious

THE FTX FALLOUT IS something to behold. It’s said that the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange has liabilities that could end up being twice what Enron owed when it collapsed more than two decades ago. The hubris of Sam Bankman-Fried (also known as SBF), founder of FTX, is something all investors can learn from.
It was just a few months ago that Bankman-Fried was dubbed the next Warren Buffett and 2022’s version of the late 19th and early 20th century financier J.P.

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