The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated from the furthest reaches of the internet for your reading pleasure.
Every week, I scan hundreds of headlines, read dozens of posts, and bring you the best of the best to save you time and mental energy.
Financial Independence (FI) is a primary focus, but it’s an awfully broad topic. I tend to approach FI and early retirement from a fatFIRE perspective and through the lens of a physician, so expect to see those biases in the selected articles.
For more great articles, take a peek at The Sunday Best Archives. Now let’s get to the best… The Sunday Best!
“Over-optimizing is just as bad, if not worse, than under-optimizing,” says Tim Ferriss. That’s just one point he makes in Revisiting Warren Buffett’s Advice to Me in 2008 (Plus: 7 Lessons for Young Investors).
The importance of the backdoor Roth can be argued, but it’s worth doing if it’s not too much trouble, and I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you. As a companion to our 2023 Vanguard Backdoor Roth tutorial, we now have a 2023 Fidelity Backdoor Roth tutorial, courtesy of Jon Hassel. You’ve got about five weeks in which you can still make your 2022 contribution.
Some feel that pursuing FIRE is too limiting, at least in terms of lifestyle, and it can be if you don’t have a multiple six-figure salary. Andy Hill from Marriage Kids and Money explains that, for him, Coast FIRE is Better than Traditional FIRE.
Spend a moderate amount, and it will be easier to save up for the retirement of your dreams. But How Much is Enough to Retire Comfortably? Ben Carlson with A Wealth of Common Sense explores the answers given by people from all around the world.
Thirteen years ago, a study convinced many of us that $75,000 a year was enough money to make most people happy, although the study results were a bit more nuanced. A recent study, also involving Dan Kahneman, refutes that idea. Barry Ritholtz with The Big Picture asks How Much Money Buys Happiness?
Money might buy happiness for 80% of us, but Leif with Five Year FIRE Escape says it’s a chicken and egg problem, and we’re approaching it backwards. Being Happy Makes You Rich. (It’s Not Just Me, It’s Science.)
Sharing clips from Wall Street, Wolf of Wall Street, and Boiler Room, Josh Katzowitz with The White Coat Investor takes an amusing look at the intersection of Hollywood and Wall. What I Learned from My Favorite Money Movies—and How I Apply Those Lessons Today.
What I learned from paying six figures in taxes for more than a decade: The Top 10 Ways to Lower Your Taxes.
You don’t need a whole lot of income to live well in a place like Portugal, a fact the Modern FImily learned firsthand.
Physicians: The Free Leverage & Growth Summit is Days Away
Later this week, the 4th Annual Leverage & Growth Summit, the online, no-cost, no-brainer-registration event from Passive Income MD begins.
A few dozen doctors sat down with Peter Kim to share how they’ve built successful businesses while practicing medicine, harnessing their knowledge and experience in medicine to achieve their goals. You can learn so much from these conversations, and with a cost of $0 to see the videos as they’re released over a few days, you should absolutely sign up.
Below are some of the people who are sharing their insights via L&G 2023; I’m sure you’ll recognize a few faces.
When You Have More Than Enough
Last week, I was on stage not once, but twice with author James Lange, an attorney and CPA who works primarily with wealthy clients on estate planning and related matters. Based on his presentations on how to leave money to heirs, charities or both and comments like “no one ends up spending down their Roth IRA,” it’s clear that many people don’t know what to do when they have “enough” and then some.
One of the talks I missed but look forward to viewing in the online course version of WCICON was a talk from Jim Dahle on Spending in Retirement. I think it’s one of those things that “supersavers” struggle with. You spend decades growing your net worth, and it’s difficult to alter that mindset once the income stops, even when you understand that, mathematically, your odds of ever running out of money are vanishingly small.
I thought a nine-week trip spent primarily in New Zealand and Australia would be a good way to get accustomed to spending lots of money, but after nearly a week in and around Auckland, we’ve found the prices to be quite fair. Groceries cost a bit more, but dining out costs a bit less than what we’re used to in The States.
For example, we had amazing $6 NZD (<$4 USD) pizzas at Freeman & Grey the other night, and yesterday, we enjoyed some of the best pad thai and curry we’ve ever had at Chom Na Thai for about $50 NZD (under $30 USD) for our family of four. That bought three entrees and enough leftovers for a couple of lunches we’ll be enjoying today. Our hotels and Airbnb stays are also better than expected, with most coming in at $100 to $150 USD per night.
The favorable exchange rate helps, and it’s true that we’re booking numerous daytime activities that cost $100 to $200 a day for the four of us, but I’m still finding that we’re not spending huge sums of money in one of the more expensive places a family can be.
As we returned from a round-trip ferry ride and guided tour of what was once New Zealand’s largest rehab facility and is now a mammal-free (save for a few humans) nature preserve and kiwi habitat, I had an email from Mike Piper telling me about his new book, More than Enough: A Brief Guide to the Questions That Arise After Realizing You Have More Than You Need.
Based on the title and an introduction that references the story Jack Bogle opened with in his Enough (great book, also), I think this will be a great read and it may even help me make some spending decisions when presented with lots of options to indulge as we tour around New Zealand’s South Island in the next couple of weeks.
When You Have Less Than Enough… And You’re a Bank
The final chapter in the Silicon Valley Bank story has yet to be written, but for now, it’s shut down and the FDIC has taken over. Perhaps an acquisition or merger can be arranged over the weekend, but I’m not holding my breath.
Sadly, about 96% of money deposited there was in excess of the $250,000 per account FDIC insurance, a fact that both led to its quick demise and also raises questionmarks as to how much uninsured money can be recovered, and how soon.
If there’s any good news from this, it’s the fact that deposits weren’t invested in risky mortgage-backed securities or credit default swaps that tanked banks fifteen years ago, but primarily in U.S. treasuries. They still hold value, but the value of fixed-rate, longer-term bonds become worth less (not worthless — that space matters!) as interest rates rise, and they’ve risen awfully fast.
If you were affected directly or peripherally in this debacle, please accept my condolences. This may be a good time to ensure you’re not holding more than $250,000 in an individual account or $500,000 in a joint account in any FDIC-insured bank. Personally, I’ve kept most of my cash in a Vanguard money market account over the last six months or so when rates offered topped those from even the best high-yield savings accounts.
Bonus reading from bankers-turned-bloggers for those interested in reading more on the SVB topic:
- Silicon Valley Bank: What Happened? from Stop Saving Shirts
- Why Would Silicon Valley Bank Buy 10-Year Treasury Bonds Near The Top Of The Market? A podcast from Financial Samurai
Have a stupendous week!
-Physician on FIRE