Like what I did there with the title? I created what’s called click bait. Most of the time my titles are boring, other times they are obscure. This time though I created an “action” title to capture readers’ interest in the Gap Number Method, because it gained some recent publicity. That’s about as creative as I get, adding the word “action” in all caps to a title.
Yes, I know. You’re wondering how, with only two readers who aren’t related to me, did I gain any publicity? Well, it turns out I have a face built for radio — or podcasting as the case may be. Not so sure about the voice though.
In any case, on a recent (and so far my only) podcast interview on ChooseFI, the hosts asked me to explain my concept of the Gap Number. For those of you who need a refresher on the Gap Number, you can find the post where I coined the term here. In general, the Gap Number is the difference between your fixed income in retirement and your expenses. Expressed mathematically it looks like: Continue reading The Gap Number Method in … ACTION! (Part 1)
This past week was a big one in the short history of the Grumpus Maximus blog. My first guest post on a much bigger website drove a record amount of traffic to mine. The guest post was a result of collaboration between myself and Darrow Kirkpatrick of www.caniretireyet.com. I am happy to consider Darrow one of my two main mentors in this blogging adventure. My introduction to Darrow was facilitated by my other mentor, Doug “Nords” Nordman, who founded the Military Guide blog. Darrow and Nords are both great guys, not only generous with their time but knowledge as well. Together they make up my team in the blogging sphere. Whether or not they know it, their willingness to help me succeed translates into a special kind of teamwork for which I am immeasurably grateful.
I blogged recently that when I retire from the military, what I will miss most is working with the great men and women I’ve had the honor of serving with and leading. For some reason, I’m the type of person who draws great satisfaction from working successfully together as a team to accomplish goals. The military life, despite its many drawbacks, definitely offers plenty of opportunities for teamwork. While not the only career that offers this opportunity, if teamwork is one of your main motivations in life, I could think of no better occupation to enter.
The Post-Retirement Teamwork Challenge
It remains to be seen if I can successfully translate the satisfaction I derive from teamwork opportunities in my full-time career to retired life. For someone like me who needs the sense of accomplishment which comes with teamwork, it begs the question as to what outlet I will turn to when retired. Certainly, blogging might provide more and bigger opportunities to collaborate, and I look forward to the possibility. Yet, as I stated elsewhere on this blog, I started blogging as a means of therapy and to help a friend plot a path through a Golden Albatross moment towards Financial Independence (FI). I’m not ready to give those reasons up and place all my hope for fulfillment in retirement on blogging. Continue reading Post-Retirement Planning (Part 1): Teamwork
“Exactly What Do You Think Is Happening Here Captain?”
Raise your hands if it’s hard to determine where I come down on some of the issues I address in this blog. You’re not alone. I do it on purpose. The way I see it, for some topics, all I can do is describe the problem and provide some options to solve it. The choice is yours as to how to use the information I provide. I was reminded of that this past week as I interacted with several of my Golden Albatross Facebook group members about topics I should include in a money manifesto if I chose to write one for the blog. Continue reading Golden Albatross Pension and FI Decision Trees (1st Draft)
I have a confession to make. I put off writing this post for a while. When I first started my blog, I had always intended to demonstrate how to test your retirement plan. I wanted to do this by using a high powered retirement calculator. Doing so would complement what I consider the biggest strength of my website: the series of practical “How To” retirement plan articles in the Planning section. However, I needed to tackle some other topics first. I wanted to walk financially novice readers up to a point where they could understand the subject matter of this article. Yet, I essentially hit that point weeks ago, and still, I delayed.
Part of that delay was due to the complexity of what I intended to describe. It’s hard to write effectively about the steps needed to test your retirement plan. A technically savvy blogger would simply post a video of how to do this, but that is beyond my capability at the moment. As a point of reference, I was happy enough when I figured out how to embed a spreadsheet into this post. Maybe someday I will circle back and create a video once I obtain the skills, and find the time. Continue reading Test Your Retirement Plan: FI Numbers Don’t Lie, But … (Part 2)
In the now timeless words of Chris Farley, “Holy Schneikes!”. I saw a lot of negativity on the interwebs this week, which made me regret getting a Book of Face account. I only got an account in order to run a Financial Independence (FI) blog. Prior to that I was as anti-FB as they come, and had never had an account. In fact, I still do not have personal account, just this semi-awesome public persona with his two avid followers (thanks kids!).
I used to simply listen to podcasts about the cognitive dissonance people engaged in on the internet, now I get to see it first hand. I used to read well thought out news articles that would lay out facts, points, and counter-points forcing me to think about all sides of an issue. Now I get sucked into the visceral, opinion laden, and nonfactual diarrhea that spews out from peoples’ minds, through their thumbs, and into their comments box. Is it me, or do people just like to shout “fake news”, strap into their echo chambers, and argue past each other with no intent, or hope, in reaching common ground. It’s enough to make a grumpy guy like me point out that people suck … I mean REALLY suck.
Not everyone learns the same way. Some people learn through reading, others learn through the spoken word, and others yet learn visually. I am a mix between reader and listener. I will also concede that I am a rather verbose writer, and am aware that I have written extensively on creating a financial plan. As a result, I wanted to try something different with this post.
Every now and then I like to push myself out of my comfort zone, so I thought I would build a financial plan by drawing some pictures. I should warn you, I am graphically challenged. And since I suck at drawing, I thought the use of Power Point might assist in producing something discernible. As most military officers know, nothing makes us more stupid than attempting to boil a complex topic down to a few power point slides — which is exactly what I did. I feel thoroughly chastened by the experience. Regardless, I hope all the visual learners out there enjoy the product of arts and craft day here at the Grumpus Maximus HQ.
Grumpus Maximus Comment: I originally wrote this post with the intent to create a clear and concise step-by-step on how to calculate your Gap Number. Turns out I wrote another tome. Some of you may prefer my ramblings. If so you are probably one of my relatives or friends. Or maybe you are waiting to laugh at another of my $750,000 dollar financial mistakes. Fair enough, all I can do is laugh about it too. But in case you don’t prefer my ramblings, I thought I would quickly refer you to some other resources that are clear and concise.
Do you have a favorite teacher from your time at school? How about one that particularly challenged you to be a better student? It could be a primary, secondary or college instructor who you remember particularly fondly. I had one in 5th and 6th grade (I went to a weird school where we had the same teachers for two grades in a row). Let’s call her Strictus Academicus. She was strict but fair and taught me how to channel my smarts and energy in a positive direction. I thrived under her tutelage, and the academic discipline she forged within me carried on for the rest of my life.
Much like Strictus Academicus, I am going to break out the ruler and be stern but fair with you. Don’t worry, no one’s knuckles are getting rapped, and no one will be staying after class. However, I am assigning some prerequisite reading and podcast listening. The prerequisites are for those of you not familiar with the difference between Traditional and Roth retirement savings vehicles. Many apologies for doing this, but I cannot allow you to continue reading the bulk of this post until you read or listen to the following articles.
I can hear the groans already. Yet, I need to talk higher level stuff, and if you don’t have the basics down, then I am afraid I will lose you. I may loose you anyways because this stuff is not the most exciting. The knowledge could save you money, time, and hassle though. And I would rather loose your attention out of boredom than confusion. As for your assignment, since other people have explained the basics much better than me, it will be easier if you to simply learn from them. For those of you Roth and Traditional Retirement Account (TRA) novices, see the bullet points below prior to class convening. And don’t worry I was just like you two years ago. Continue reading University of the Golden Albatross: Roth Options Vs. Traditional Retirement Accounts
As you see from the title, this post is a continuation of a previous post on the method I use to conduct financial planning. If you haven’t read the first post I suggest you go back and do so. The content below will make more sense if you do. I would strongly suggest you read my article on the need to track your money as well. Without that knowledge you will not be able to make many of the calculations I discuss below.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)
I received several comments in response to my last post from people who were receptive to the idea of Financial Independence (FI) save but one factor – the amount of time it would take to figure out how to achieve that goal. I get it. Life has a knack of interrupting attempts to plan long term. From babies to hobbies to the day to day grind of work. There just is not enough time in one day, one week, or one month to sit down, study the problem, and conduct the planning that FI requires. No doubt FI takes time – I used a three month Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment to develop my plan. Since I was separated from my family, I decided to put my time to good use. However, you may not be so “lucky” as to get three months of TDY from life’s other responsibilities to conduct FI planning. If lack of time is your biggest obstacle to planning for FI, attached is an outline to follow in an attempt to save you some … time. Depending on how well you track your finances, using the outline will probably cut your required planning time in half. Speaking of the need to track your finances, if you do not already do so, please read my post on the need to track your finances before going any further with this one. Continue reading Financial Planning (Part 1): Time and Planning