Few people want to have less tomorrow than they have today
This section covers general financial theory. I’ve placed it first as a litmus test. If you disagree with the general direction we’re taking then most of the financial advice in this book won’t help you. If it makes sense to you, then carry on. Remember at all times that I’m just a few chapters ahead of you, writing as I learn. This isn’t my life’s work–I’ve been a lot of things but NONE of them related to finance and/or investment.
For some, the financial and investment chapters will be the most useful part of the book. For some, it’s the least important. If you don’t have enough money to retire, but you’re being forced to by job requirements, health issues, or you simply can’t bear to work anymore, then those sections won’t help you much. We’ll cover some ways to struggle through with an under-funded retirement in the chapter called Getting By.
This section is about saving an adequate amount for retirement, and then managing that savings to yield the lifestyle you want or need. Most of the wisdom in this book comes from the writings of other people, and a great deal comes from the Bogleheads website: http://www.Bogleheads.org, a tremendous resource that I am currently banned from. I know that sounds odd, but it was my own fault. My first post was about this book, inviting members to review what I was doing. I posted links to the development environment of this book as a PressBooks website. Of course, it looked like spam, or an attempt to lure participants in the forum off to my own site for nefarious purposes, so I’m banned from posting. Sorry about that, but the site and the retirement book based on the site remains the source of most of the investment knowledge in the book. So thanks for that.
I’d post my thanks on the site, but I’m banned, so I can’t.
In general, people don’t want to go backwards. People don’t want to have less tomorrow than they do today. Retirement doesn’t have to mean squashing your life down to a subsistence existence. But you can squash down your expense model and have a happy life. I started this book as some blog entries on a website I maintain: http://www.ponostyle.com and I started a conversation about the blog entries on a forum about Stand Up Paddle boarding called the Standup Zone ( www.standupzone.com ). One of the other members posted this in response to my comments:
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. “I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security, we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”
I value that advice highly.