What caught my eye this week.
Charlie Munger used to say that to be really sure of our convictions, we must be able to argue the opposite side.
If you agree and you’re a fan of early retirement, then get yourself a glass of whiskey and/or a couple of Ibuprofen and buckle up to digest the anti-FIRE message loud and clear.
Because this week Jared Dillian of the punchily-named We’re Gonna Get Those Bastards blog took on The FIRE Movement:
Joe graduates from college and gets a job in the cube farm for $80,000 a year. He gets the cheapest apartment possible, rides a bike instead of driving, and eats ramen noodles.
He does this for ten years, saving up to 70% of his income, and investing it in low-cost index funds. At the end of ten years, he has a million or so saved up, more if he is lucky. At that point, he retires to play the guitar or paint happy little trees, and gradually draws down his savings over time.
If the stock market keeps going up as planned, he can stay retired for 50 more years, and get really good at guitar.
This the fucking stupidest thing I have ever heard of in my life.
I enjoyed the post, but then I often link to Dillian’s writing. He swears a lot and takes no prisoners – but hey, it worked for Quentin Tarantino.
Also, I don’t consider feisty articles uploaded into the void as a personal attack, which helps.
But of course there’s a lot that’s wrong in Dillian’s FIRE1 summary.
Nobody serious in ‘the movement’ uses a 12% expected return to underwrite their financial futures, as he claims.
More subjectively, Dillian’s take on whether and why people would pursue a FIRE-forward lifestyle is hyperbolic, and his love of consumption culture seems archaic to me.
That’s okay. We all think differently, and our views evolve too.
However I do love and cherish financial independence. And for me that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d lived life the way Dillian describes.
Know your enemies
It’s good to be challenged, so have a read of the whole article. He makes a couple of fair points as he sprays his gun around. Even if he’s targeting some of the least objectionable people you can imagine.
Where do I agree with him?
Well, I do think someone should probably change jobs if they’re that unhappy, rather than slogging it out for two decades on the prospect of a grand escape.
I also doubt whether most deeply unhappy people will be made happier by having more time to sit around thinking about it. There’s probably something else going on.
Finally, I don’t believe a 50-year long retirement – as in never working for money again – is optimal. In my observation though few truly early FIRE-ees actually end up never working again anyway.
You may think differently. Jared Dillian does. And again, that’s all fine.
One huge virtue of the FIRE concept is it’s not trying to change anybody else’s world. Your politics might have made our country poorer and my holidays more of a hassle. But your savings rate is your own affair. It hurts me not a jot.
Where some see solipsism in FIRE, I see humility and the serenity prayer.
I guess that sounds boring and worthy, and not half as much fun as swearing. Dillian’s post is more entertaining. No doubt it boosted his website traffic.
But you know what else is entertaining?
Being free to do whatever you want to with your weekdays before you’re 50. And not having to care what anybody else – boss, random blogger, or brother-in-law – thinks about it.
Have a great weekend!
How to make one million pounds – Monevator
From the archive-ator: Reasons to rent a house instead of buying – Monevator
Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.
Interest rate cuts still expected, despite UK inflation uptick – BBC
Record 50,004 limited buy-to-let companies set up in 2023 – This Is Money
London property price falls in 2023, by borough – Evening Standard
Home Office U-turns on rights of EU citizens in UK before Brexit – Guardian
Blackrock beats spot Bitcoin ETF rivals in race to $1bn in assets – Blockworks
‘Manipulative’ dating app fraudster jailed – BBC
Why is it still so hard to build new homes in England? [Search result] – FT
Products and services
Seven tips to get a UK train ticket as cheaply as possible – This Is Money
How to plan and pay for your funeral in the UK – Guardian
Six things you need to know before using equity release – Which
Is HelloFresh good value for money? – Be Clever With Your Cash
Electric cars will get cheaper in 2024 thanks to an imminent price war – This Is Money
LNER scraps off-peak rail tickets between London and Edinburgh – Guardian
Homes for commuters, in pictures – Guardian
Comment and opinion
Divert national insurance cut bonus to a pension, experts say – Guardian
How to avoid becoming miserably rich – A Teachable Moment
Will ditching coffee make you a millionaire? – Morningstar
Despite everything, UK house prices rose in 2024 [Podcast] – The Property Podcast
Should you put all your investment eggs in one basket? [Search result] – FT
Bad luck Beans – Money With Katie
What do the rich really think about a wealth tax? – Guardian
The noisiness of financial factors [Search result, nerdy] – FT
Advice for landlords – Humble Dollar
Five simple investing ideas – Darius Foroux
What makes a good prophecy? [A few weeks old] – Tim Harford
[US] stocks versus bonds mini-special
The Holy Grail of portfolio diversification – A Wealth of Common Sense
Stocks have not always beaten bonds. Should you care? – Morningstar
Historical returns for US stocks, bonds, and cash – A Wealth of Common Sense
Naughty corner: Active antics
FTSE 100 valuation and forecast – UK Dividend Stocks
Investors to avoid – Investment Talk
There’s a record $6 trillion sitting in US money market funds – Apollo
Using a negative checklist to reduce investing errors – Novel Investor
The S&P 500 looks as expensive as ever… – Apollo
…but US small caps are historically cheap – Institutional Investor
Kindle book bargains
What They Don’t Teach You About Money by Claer Barrett – £1.99 on Kindle
Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis – £0.99 on Kindle
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb – £1.99 on Kindle
Make Your Bed by William McRaven – £0.99 on Kindle
Why nuclear energy is the best energy- Uncharted Territories
Brexit divergence from UK destroying UK’s vital environmental protections – Guardian
Turn wasted wind energy into green hydrogen to save UK billions, study says – Recharge
The fight against blast fishing in Tanzania – Hakai
Climate change warning over Scottish forestry cuts – BBC
UK water industry’s ‘urgent’ plan to tackle sewage delayed by four months – Guardian
Return to the office latest mini-special
Don’t sleep with your boss – Dror Poleg
UK judge rules against FCA manager who wanted to work from home [Search result] – FT
60 Minutes on US commercial real estate – The Big Picture
Robot overlord roundup
A.I. heralds the next generation of financial scams [Search result] – FT
Is A.I. the death of I.P.? – The New Yorker
Off our beat
The tyranny of the algorithm: why every coffee shop looks the same – Guardian
Information that would get your attention – Morgan Housel
Is it any wonder Gen Z struggles with job interviews? – Guardian
Wine was my poison. Now it’s my sober passion [Search result] – FT
When one twin goes vegan and the other doesn’t – Vox
The labour of inspiration – More To That
“Quite possibly there’s nothing as fine as a big freight train starting across country in early summer, Hardesty thought. That’s when you learn that the tragedy of plants is that they have roots.”
– A New York Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin
Financial Independence Retire Early.
Someone is pissing on your FIRE, plus the rest of the week’s good reads…
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