After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
I read many personal finance, investing, fitness, and military related articles throughout the month. Everything I learned about investing and personal finance was from reading more experienced or smarter people’s work. By sharing what I am reading with you, you can get smarter alongside me.
This will be an ongoing series that I will update once a month for at least the next year with articles, blog posts, Reddit posts, and forum threads.
Here are 15 links I found worth sharing last month.
Two new military personal finance bloggers: Rich, an Air Force officer, and John, a Coast Guardsman. Check out their sites, they are writing some good stuff. Rich did a guest post on retiring early on a military salary over at Doug Nordman’s and Curtez Rigg’s Military Guide site.
Go Curry Cracker! talks about how they have lived tax free for the past four years. With an upcoming PCS to a CZTE location, my income will be tax free for the next 2 years. I will be using some of Jeremy’s strategies for myself after we stop making regular W-2 income.
An amazing update on an old school financially independent couple that was playing the FIRE game long before blogging. The author of Cashing in on the American Dream: Retiring at 35 is 65 now and still retired 30 years after writing the book. The book was originally published in 1988, when I was wee lad. Really awesome to see that FIRE strategies work, even through the Dot Com bust, 9/11, Great Recession, and multiple wars.
Washington Post scaremongering that millennials will have to save twice what their parents did due to low investment returns. No one knows what the market performance will be for the next 50 years, so have a flexible plan and be ready for anything. They advocate a 14% savings rate, vice a 6% of a generation ago. Clearly if you are interested in FIRE at all you know these are ridiculously low savings rates if you want to achieve FIRE in any reasonable amount of time. Start at a 40-50% savings rate and work your way up from there.
An Airman struggles to save money. Reddit users offer some helpful tips.
Florida is getting a private railroad line. Not very personal finance related but I love trains and capitalism at work.
Ryan Guina was featured on a podcast. He talks candidly about running an online business while serving in the Illinois Air National Guard. A good listen from one of my mentors and fellow military financial blogger.
Zen Habits, an amazing website that opened me to practicing mindfulness and positively changing myself through habit, turns 10 this year. Leo Babauta shares some things he has learned and how things have changed for him. I learned a tremendous amount about writing online and mindful habits from Leo.
NPR writes about how the DJIA hit 20,000 recently. Personally, my TSP portfolio is up 19% for the 12 months ending 31 January. I feel the market is becoming irrationally exuberant and we will have a crash at home point in the next 4-8 years, especially if the Trump administration dismantles the Dodd-Frank Act and allows Wall Street to write the financial regulations.
It’s important to remember that the stock market only has two states: either it’s the highest it’s ever been, or it’s not. Do not let a record high stock market deter you from investing. Continue investing regularly (I do it at least monthly if not bi-monthly) and do not pay attention to what the market is doing. This, too, shall pass.
Paula Pant writes about not setting goals. Leo wrote about something similar in his ten year anniversary post above.
A great article that covers how one comic book obsessed blogger became hooked on the notion of financial independence. Sort of mirrors my own transformation, which I cover in my book. A long read but I feel like it is a great introduction to anyone who just does not “get” the concept of FIRE.
Finally, I have been using this Networthify tool recently to project out our FI date. It’s amazing how you can shave 4 years off your time to FI by going from a 50% savings rate to a 60% savings rate. That is our goal as our income increases as I promote and move up in my time-in-grade.
If you found this list useful, please sign up for my newsletter, email it to a friend, share it on social media, or let me know an interesting article you read in the past month in the comments. Thanks!
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.