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. I learned everything I know about achieving financial independence from reading more experienced and smarter people’s work. By sharing what I am reading with you, you can learn along with me.
This will be an ongoing series that I will update once a month for at least the next year (2017) with articles, blog posts, Reddit posts, and forum threads.
My book, The Intelligent Military Investor, is now available as a PDF here or on Amazon! It currently has all 5 or 4 star reviews, with 82% reviews 5 stars. The Amazon price is a deep discount from the PDF version.
Both the PDF and Kindle version are DRM (digital rights management) free, so you can share the book with your friends, family, squadron mates, or anyone else you think may find it useful.
It is a short read, taking most people 2-3 hours to get through it, but I think it may have a lasting impact on your life. Please let me know what you think or if you would like a coupon code.
Jonathan at My Money Blog asks how to make your life completely miserable, in an attempt to figure out how to make yourself happy. It’s a good thought experiment. I found this YouTube video to be extremely helpful in visualizing what a miserable life is like. I try to do the opposite of those things, and find that it makes me much happier.
Justin at Root of Good shares how thanks to a booming stock market and a little extra income his net worth has increased by half a million dollars since his early retirement.
The New York Times talks about how volatility in the stock market is down even though political volatility in Washington DC and around the world seems to be at a high level. Personally I think the stock market is much more disconnected from reality or the news cycle than most people assume.
Mr. Money Mustache discusses the next recession. Like I have talked about repeatedly in the past year, I believe we are headed for a recession within the next few years. Not a specific prediction, I know. I do not think that you should move all your money to cash or gold or stockpile guns and beans, but do realize that the good economic times will come to an end someday.
Have an asset allocation and solid financial plan that you can ride through the storm. Take action on the things you can control (debt reduction, savings rate, expense ratios, savings, asset allocation) and do not stress about the things you cannot control (stock market performance, business cycles, tax reform in DC).
The Financial Samurai believes fear was his primary motivator for financial independence. As for me, financial independence seems like the self-actualization part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once my basic needs are met, the only logical use for additional income is to buy investments so I can one day live off of those savings. One day my income will stop when I cannot work anymore due to age or disability. You cannot rely on anyone else to bail you out if you do not save while you earn income.
Portfolio Charts added a feature to calculate safe withdrawal rates. Since 1970, with an 80% Total US Market and 20% Long Term Bonds portfolio, over any period greater than 20 years, you would perish with your principal intact at a 3% withdrawal rate. At a 4% withdrawal rate, you would not run out of money before you died. Good to know when calculating your personal safe withdrawal rate.
The NY Times has a great primary on retirement savings. Very basic stuff, but good to show a teenager or young adult who is just getting started.
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.