Category Archives: Financial

What I’d Love to Say on an Online Forum but Won’t

After yesterday’s post on the Boglehead forum, I ran across a post from a 27-year old entrepreneur who hopes to retire at 40 or so with a $3-4 million portfolio.  There are various tools online that will test proposed asset allocations and provide a success rate.  Several folks offered their opinions and gave him some things to think about such as spending rate, asset preservation, pre-nup, and an emotionally compatible spouse.

A month after the original post, he bumped it to see if anyone else had something to offer. This is what I’d love to say:

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Okay – I’ll bite but just accept that I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

First & most important thing, are you still on track to make the $3-5 million in 10 years that you believe the models say you need?   (that’s also 40-50 years without a black swan or two to wreck havoc on your portfolio).  If not, your question is moot.

Don’t plan on living at or below your current level when you retire – especially at 40.  I wouldn’t expect a young retiree to stop doing the things that he likes to do, particularly if he (or his spouse) enjoys the finer things in life.  A person on track (perhaps) to make that kind of money in 10 years probably isn’t living on beans and rice.  You probably are a tech guy with latest & greatest toys.  Trust me, you won’t give that up.  I also expect you enjoy a more urban, hip lifestyle. That doesn’t come cheap and you won’t find it living in the suburbs.

You mentioned you want kids.  That means saving for college since your taxable holdings will put you way above any chance for financial aid.  Back to lifestyle – hip urban + kids would most likely mean private schools.

Ngreen-acresow some folks decide to do the Green Acres thing.  They make their millions by 48 or 50 and then decide to become social, environmentally conscience.    Think Beetlejuice but without the ghosts.  You know, decide to make artisan goat cheese, grow heirloom apples & the like, or buy a vineyard.  The Boston Globe & NYTs routine run articles about folks that do this. It isn’t cheap & you probably won’t make money but you’ll get great tax breaks.  BTW, there was one couple who did this 5 miles up the road when we lived in a tiny Mass town.  But I digress.

To cut to the chase – you aren’t asking the right questions.  Your original post never mentioned anything other than “to be set for the rest of my life ….. never to be an employee again.”  That’s a declaration of comfort, not a declaration of purpose or destination.

So, the question remains for you and all of us: Where is your destination?  It does matter.

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Ever heard of a Boglehead?

A “Boglehead” is a term used to describe folks who generally follow the basic investing strategy of John Bogle, form CEO of Vanguard, the world’s largest mutual fund company.  In a nutshell, Bogleheads use low cost index funds to build simple portfolios taking particular care to use an asset allocation that is appropriate for the risk you are willing to or need to take.  “Simplicity is better” – and “Stay the course” are often heard on the Boglehead forum.

The forum and wiki offer a wealth (groan) of information, insight, and personalized advice.  The wiki’s list of recommended books on Boglehead style investing is the key to understanding why this style of investing is appealing, works, and lets you take control.  You can find many of these in your library.  I bought one of the books written by four long-time adherents, The Boglehead’s Guide to Investment Planning, and have benefited from its advice.

After years of letting a firm which targeted the military “advise me” (& make money off of me), I decided to take charge.  I learned about asset allocation (a concept never discussed by our former financial planners), efficient market theory, and tax efficient investing.  Next I asked questions & got advice from some smart folks. Next I dumped those expensive funds & the advisor and never looked back.

I’ve been a Boglehead for nearly 5 years. So, read a few books.  Visit the forum.  There’s no secret methodology or technical trend analysis.  Just common sense investing.  Perhaps one day you’ll become a Boglehead too.