A round up of interesting or cool stuff I’ve read.
Half a War
“Half a War?
Some insightful commentary about how reaching FIRE is only half the battle?”
Well, no, it’s actually just the name of a book I finished recently.
But also, yes, I guess, because it turns out that’s sort of exactly the point I’m going to make.
I recently finished the Shattered Sea Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It’s a pretty good read, highly recommended if you like your fantasy with a lesser focus on magic and a tight, focussed plot with generally great characters.
Anyway, I mention that to put the following quote in context:
“Death waits for us all. Nothing’s forever. Life’s about making the best of what you find along the way. A man who’s not content with what he’s got, well, more than likely he won’t be content with what he hasn’t.”
Joe Abercrombie, Half A War
This is why I love reading fiction. Not only do you get to live voraciously through the characters and the story, you also never know when a sage piece of wisdom will crop up.
This particular quote caught my attention, because it’s emblematic of the ‘problem’ that some people find they have with pursuing early retirement.
Of course money can solve a number of problems. With enough money, you don’t have to worry about food and shelter, and can even start spending on fun things like travelling, concerts, video games, etc.
As Naval puts it:
“Money buys you freedom in the material world. It’s not going
to make you happy, it’s not going to solve your health problems,
it’s not going to make your family great, it’s not going to make
you fit, it’s not going to make you calm. But it will solve a lot
of external problems. It’s a reasonable step to go ahead and
Naval, The Navalmanack
Having money removes a lot of stress.
However, once you reach a modest amount of wealth, I think further increases in wealth have diminishing returns on happiness.
That is to say, if I doubled my wealth overnight, after the initial excitement wore off, my contentedness would return to the same baseline as it is now.
The above Joe Abercrombie quote also reminded me of an old Indeedably blog post from a few years ago:
“Retirement won’t fix you.
Retirement can’t cure what ails you in life.
Retirement can’t make you happy, content or fulfilled.
Retirement can free up your time however, so that you have the opportunity figure out what will.
But only if you choose to take it.
There are very few things you want to do in retirement, that you couldn’t already be doing in some form today.”
The balance between living and enjoying today to the fullest, whilst saving and investing for the future, is a constant juggling act.
Compromises will always have to be made.
Nonetheless, it’s good to take a moment to reflect every so often, to make sure that you’re happy and content today and not hoping that the accrual of more wealth will solve all of your woes.
Interesting links that caught my eye this week:
This week’s collection of links ended up falling under two broad categories. The first group all share a theme of the emotional/behavioural side of money/life, whereas the second group gets much more into the nitty gritty details of finance and investing.
- I Retired Young – A piece of early retirement advice
“Ahead of retiring early, I’d spent time planning how the finances would work and thinking about the things I’d do in my new free time. But I don’t once recall thinking how me quitting work to retire early could effect our life as a couple. Perhaps I’m unique in missing/ignoring the potential effect on the couple relationship, but I suspect I’m not alone in this.”
- Principles Personal Finance – When Breath Becomes Air – A Review
I hadn’t heard of this book but it sounds like quite the read. To copy the summary from PPF:
“The book is a US bestseller written by Paul Kalanithi and is a first hand story of a neurosurgeon who discovers he has inoperable lung cancer.”
“If there is one theme that flows through this book it is that despite incredible feats of modern medical science there are such areas of life, death and meaning they cannot answer. While acknowledging though poetry and spirituality can provide a level of comfort and reflection, it is often humbled by our human condition.”
So, by no means an easy read. But it sounds very appropriate to those of us pursuing FIRE, which, once you solve the money problem, often seems to end up as a conscious search for meaning and purpose in life.
- Mantaro Money – Memento Mori: Carpe Diem’s Older Brother
A post with a similar message to my own introduction to this week’s Wednesday Reads, only, much more eloquently put!
“it helps you ensure that you are being intentional with your time and your money. We only have a finite amount of both, so it is best not to waste either. Plan that dream holiday, switch jobs, enjoy life. Your money is simply a tool that allows you to do whatever it is you find fulfilling.”
- Ryan Holiday – Life Is About What We Can Do For Each Other
“Hillel was once asked to explain the Bible in a short sentence. He stood on one foot and said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself—all the rest is commentary.”I would argue that this is a great answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” as well.”
- The Financial Bodyguard – RISK – DEEP & SHALLOW WATERS
“The best way to avoid deep risk is actually really simple – own a globally diversified portfolio of several thousand stocks distributed predominantly across the developed equity markets of democratic countries with sound legal frameworks. Diversification really is the only free lunch.”
- The Poor Swiss – How often should you withdraw money from your portfolio?
A very thorough analysis by The Poor Swiss that highlights how withdrawing every month, rather than less frequent intervals, will increase your chances of a successful retirement (i.e. increase your chances of not running out of money).
- Occam Investing – The predictive power of fees
This is a comprehensive look at how fees affect performance.
- Money Side Up – Should You Buy vs Rent A House? – How You Can Build More Wealth When Renting
The age-old question of rent vs buy. Andrew presents a good comparison of the two options. Personally, I like the flexibility that renting offers (essential when you’re moving cities for work every 1-2 years!) but we do intend to buy eventually, once both Ms FIRE and I are satisfied that we’re in stable jobs.
Thanks for reading. Hope you’re all having a great week!