Millionaire who saved 70% of his income and retired at 35: ‘We should all live by these 6 basic principles’ – CNBC

In 2016, after accumulating close to $1 million in savings, I quit my six-figure job in software development and retired at 35. A few months later, my wife Courtney joined me in early retirement.

Not everyone will be able to retire in their 30s, but achieving financial independence is within grasp for many. It may not be easy, but you don't have to be a money genius to get there. (In fact, I struggled all throughout school because of a learning disability. To get good grades, I always had to work harder andlonger than my classmates.)

No one wants to be broke for the rest of their lives, so even if the goal isn't to retire early, we should all live by these six basic principles to build wealth:

The first rule is the most important, and it has little to do with money. It's about wanting to achieve a goal enough to make it your top priority.

Back then, I had a great salary and was good at my job. But I dreaded going to work every day. I didn't enjoy having a boss or sitting through performance reviews. The meetings, office conflicts and long commutes were exhausting. I wanted to leave the 9-to-5 life and travel the world.So, in my late 20s, I decide to make early retirement my primary goal.

I focused on making dramatic changes to my financial habits. Instead of letting my money sit idle, I invested more of it. I also started saving 70% of my income. It was hard at first, but got easier as I kept reminding myself that everything I'd been spending on were things I either didn't use or need.

None of the changes I made felt like a sacrifice, because I knew they were all in support of my goal.It's like getting into shape: You'll only lose or gain weight if you change your diet and fitness habits. And you have to want it badly enough to keep at it.

Even though I was making six figures, I was always thinking about ways I could use my skills to actively boost my income when I wasn't in the office.

I started a financial site and wrote on it consistently. Eventually, I was earning a monthly average of $1,000 through the site. Courtney and I also started a YouTube channel documenting our travels, which brought in another $400 to $500 per month. And with the bit of free time I had left, I made an extra few hundred bucks through freelance writing.

But I still worked hard at my day job, because it was my primary source of income. I wanted to showmy boss why I deserved a 10% or 15% raise (which I asked for, and got twice). Midway into my career, I built up enough courage to ask for a big promotion. Four months later, I was moved up to a director role.

Courtney also earned several raises. With both of us saving 70% of our combined income, which ranged from $200,000 to $230,000 a year, we were getting closer to early retirement.

Saving money, getting raises and doing side hustles alone won't help you retire faster. Courtney and I built much of our wealth by investing in appreciating assets, such as the stock market, real estate, businesses and relics or historic objects.

The idea behind this is simple. You buy an asset for a certain price. Over time, the asset appreciates (orincreases) in value. And boom, now you have something that's worth more than what you paid for.

But, here's the magic: Through the power ofcompound interest, our assets don't just build linearly. Instead, appreciating assets build exponentially.

If you invest $1,000 and it appreciates 10% (or $100) in a year, then your new base starting point in the next year is $1,100. Another 10% gain is $110, not just $100.Add a couple of zeros to that and we begin talking about quite a bit of money enough on which to retire.

Over the subsequent years, thanks to investing in appreciating assets, we grew our savings to more than $1 million. When it comes to investing, late is always better than never. If you haven't started, there are plenty of resources online or you can talk to a trusted financial advisor.

I always like to take the hands-off approach whenever possible, especially when it comes to money.

Many employers offer retirement plans, and most companies will automatically make contributions straight from your paycheck into your investment accounts.Once it's set up, you never have to worry about it again.

Courtney and I used this to the fullest when we were working:

Automation will make your life so much easier, because you won't have to rely on discipline to pay bills, avoid late fees, interest charges or reductions in your credit score.

One of the most effective ways to eliminate debt is to know exactly where your money is going. Every penny matters. This is a basic principle, but so many people lack the discipline to sit down once a month and review their spending.

A few simple actions will can make a huge difference in your finances:

I used to be a super-spender. I had a supercharged Corvette Convertible and aCadillac CTS. I also rode a Yamaha R1 sport bike around town, paying $150 per month for insurance. But I sold all those things after I made early retirement a goal.

Courtney and I now live a very frugal life, and we couldn't be happier. We cut cable TV and use a streaming subscription for half the price. We only spend $50 per month eating outat restaurants. We buy new clothes less than twice a year. We only upgrade our phones if it's completely broken.

You don't have to cut back on everything; this principle is about reevaluating priorities. I believe in spending liberally on things that bring you lasting joy, and cutting out expenses for things that don't. The key is to admit what makes you happy and what doesn't.

Steve Adcockis a financial expert whoblogsabout how to achieve financial independence. A former software developer, Steve retired early at the age of 35. His work has been featured in U.S. News, MarketWatch, Forbes and Business Insider. Follow him on Twitter@SteveOnSpeed.

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Millionaire who saved 70% of his income and retired at 35: 'We should all live by these 6 basic principles' - CNBC

Tanja Hester: The Pandemic Will Stoke Interest in Early Retirement – Morningstar.com

Jeff Ptak: Hi, and welcome to The Long View. I'm Jeff Ptak, global director of manager research for Morningstar Research Services.

Christine Benz: And I'm Christine Benz, director of personal finance for Morningstar, Inc.

Ptak: Our guest on the podcast today is Tanja Hester, whom The New York Times referred to as the matriarch of the FIRE movement. For the uninitiated, FIRE stands for financial independence/retire early. Tanja is the author of the Our Next Life blog, and she is also author of the book Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way. Tanja and her husband Mark retired in 2017 at the ages of 38 and 41. Her blog is devoted to chronicling their journey and sharing guidance for others who might be considering an early retirement.

Tanja, welcome to The Long View.

Tanja Hester: Thanks so much for having me.

Ptak: You wrote a terrific piece for MarketWatch arguing that this would be a pivotal moment for the FIRE movement that might shake out some of the bad ideas that had taken hold in that community. What are some of those bad ideas? It seems like a lot of them revolve around people retiring without enough of a margin of safety built in.

Hester: Yeah, I think like any large community that grows, over time you get more and more diversity of ideas and diversity of thought, and really much like with any investing, everybody is brilliant in a bull market. Everyone's ideas work, nobody's failing. And so, I think that a lot of the ideas put forth in more recent years have not truly been tested. And I think, unfortunately, this financial crisis, whatever it shakes out to be ultimately, is going to test a lot of the ideas that are put forth. I still think all of the fundamentals of the early retirement or what I call the "Work Optional" movement, you know, it's really just the idea of saving enough so that you can live on your passive income.

It's really not a revolutionary idea. But I think that you have over time as that bull market got longer and longer and longer, and people felt more invincible as investors and also as people came in who were younger and hadn't necessarily lost a ton in 2008-2009, or who hadn't been deeply scarred by earlier crashes like dot-com bust, that you've had folks who haven't necessarily experienced hard times as an investor and got really, I think, overly optimistic. So, you had some folks pushing for safe withdrawal rates from portfolios that aren't sustainable. You had folks pushing people to retire on less than $1 million, which could easily be wiped out with one or two healthcare crises, given the state of U.S. healthcare.

So, there are multiple ideas out there, I think, that really all do go toward that more aggressive side, relying on a high growth future, relying on a future in which we can predict healthcare costs, of a future in which there are no cost ramifications of climate change, which really, we need to be understanding that there are a ton of unknown unknowns out there and building a movement and a community around that idea. So, sure, it's going to take people a little bit longer to get there to their early retirement goal, but it will give them a lot more peace of mind and safety ultimately. So, I think it's worth it. Obviously, millions of people are now out of work, who had jobs a few months ago. But I think that in terms of FIRE specifically, this will be long term a helpful thing to get us more ideas instead of the kind of fringy more aggressive ones.

Benz: Tanja, I know you've thought a lot about return sequencing when putting together your own plan. So, let's talk about that issue and talk about how you've structured your plan so that it's resilient in the face of what could be kind of a long running recession and trouble for the stock market.

Hester: Yeah. One of the things that I think is not talked about enough in early retirement and work optional circles is the fact that early retirees are vastly more likely than traditional retirees to hit a bad sequence of returns. And that's based on an analysis done by Karsten Jeske, who blogs at Early Retirement Now. He's a Ph.D. economist and has broken this down. And the simple reason is that traditional retirees tend to retire around a nonfinancial milestone. They turn 65. They get their pension, a spouse is sick, and they have to retire to take care of them. I mean, these are reasons that tend to be driven by other factors where early retirees tend to retire in clusters, which we've just seen a big cluster of folks retire early in the community at the end of a long bull market, and so you actually are much more likely to retire into a recession. Of course, no one could predict a recession like this one is perhaps shaping up to be. This is obviously much larger, different than other events we've seen. But it is something that I think early retirees have to pay special attention to is making sure that you're not harming the entire success of your retirement portfolio by retiring at a bad time.

And so, for us, we did a few things. I'm a big believer in what I call the two-phase early retirement approach in which you save for early retirement as a separate phase of life than traditional retirement. And so, we have our 401(k) dollars socked away, and we are just not touching them unless we hit an emergency or something truly terrible happens. And that money will just grow until we're 59.5 and older, and then we'll shift to living on that. But so, we have this separate pool of just regular taxable investments that we're primarily living off of until we hit almost 60. And the idea being that even if we fail now, we're still protected in our later years. We're not bankrupting our future selves in an effort to stay solvent now. So, that's the first thing and I think a really big thing is just kind of insulating future us from the risk of the present.

The second is by having a sizable cash cushion. That's not a very sexy thing to say to people who love investing, but I'm really a big believer in having two to three years' worth of cash in a savings account, high yield, something like that. And so, we definitely have that. We also separately have a bond allocation that would support us for multiple years beyond that. And another thing that isn't particularly sexy, but we paid off our mortgage before we retired. I think having a paid-off home allows you to live very cheaply if you need to, and it gives you some added insulation. So, if times get tough, you can take your spending down to a pretty low level. I'm not a believer in the kind of ultra-frugal camp of FIRE of living on rice and beans. In fact, I really don't think that's a majority opinion. That's just a sexy thing to write stories about. But it is nice to know that we can shrink back to that level and protect our whole portfolio if we need to.

Ptak: You used the word different before. You were investing during the 2008 market crash but still working. How does this market swoon feel different to you now that you're retired?

Hester: Well, I mean, obviously, I have a real stake in it in a different way. This is money that we need to live on, not necessarily right this moment, but in the foreseeable future. And so, seeing things dip feels very different than back in 2008, when we had a lot less invested, and it was all abstract. This was just some unknown future date when we might pull it out. And so, yeah, seeing stuff go down is never fun, but it wasn't as meaningful. So, I think it still affects us differently. But I think we've also gotten a lot more practice. We've seen market ups and downs before. We've seen the Great Recession. We've seen that recovery. It gives us perspective to remember that, hey, even if stuff is scary right now, things do come back over time. We know that the markets have always had positive returns across each decade. Whether that will be true in the future? No one knows. But we can certainly be hopeful about it. And I don't know a thoughtful way to wrap that up. Sorry.

Benz: That's OK. So, how did the 2008 financial crisis make you want to pursue an early retirement? You've written about this. And on the surface, it seems kind of counterintuitive in that this financial crisis and big market sell-off reduce people's investments and force them to continue working longer. But you've said, it actually influenced you to kind of want to think about an earlier retirement. So, let's talk about that thought process.

Hester: For sure. I honestly think we're going to see something similar with this crisis. I think we're going to see more people interested in at the very least securing their financial independence if not eyeing an early retirement. To me it's being able to, as the book title says, make work optional, something that you can choose to do or not to. But for us, that was very much by the realization that I think what was happening prior to the Great Recession, but certainly was reinforced by 2008-2009. The system is not built to look out for us. We as individual investors are at the whims essentially of much, much larger forces. In 2008, it was the moral hazard and that over leveraging and securitized mortgages, and all those things. Now, it's a global pandemic over which we have no control. But seeing then all the dominoes fall across the economy, seeing millions of people lose jobs right now, we're seeing that happen at a faster pace than ever before. In 2008, it was seeing all the homes be foreclosed on, and all the people forced to short sell, things like that, that you realize that if you allow yourself to be vulnerable, or if you're in a position of vulnerability because of limited opportunity, that that's just an incredibly scary thing. And so, I think for us and a lot of people in the FIRE movement, it's really in some sense, a fear-based reaction. It's saying, "I don't want to be vulnerable to that; I want to take my financial security into my own hands." And I just don't see an outcome of this current crisis being that people are going to say, "You know what, after going through all that, I'd like to be more reliant on my job. I'd like to be more tied to this scary and vulnerable thing." I think you're going to see more people come out of it as we did in 2008 and say, "I want to be in control to the extent possible."

Ptak: But given the way this is affecting broad swaths of the economy, don't you think in some ways that it shrinks the potential pool of those who would be equipped to make the kind of change you described, however well-reasoned it might be? And your reasoning is--it seems sound in a lot of ways. But it just seems like this has been injurious to such broad swaths of the population that that they really wouldn't have the option to go and do those sorts of things. Isn't that right?

Hester: Oh, no doubt. I think you're going to see more people having the desire. I think, at least in the short term, fewer people able to execute it. But I also think it's an often-overlooked thing, because media tends to like to tell stories of people who were able to retire at incredibly young ages. What's often overlooked is the fact that a huge number of people doing this are not making massive salaries. We know a lot of people who've been able to do this who are teachers or public employees at fairly low levels, or dual income households that don't earn six figures combined, even still today. And so, I don't think it's true to say that people won't be able to do this after the recession. There will be fewer people probably who can do it in a handful of years, or who can retire at 30 or 35. But I still think it's going to be a good motivator for folks to save what they can, and that's just going to give people more power in the future, which is only a good thing.

Benz: So, I want to talk a little bit more about sort of the logistics of a FIRE portfolio and how that would work in the face of the kind of market environment we're in right now. So, you've written critically about the 4% guideline or sometimes called the rule for retirement portfolio withdrawals. Sounds like some FIRE proponents just kind of take it and run with it, but you've been critical about it. So, let's discuss the system that you use with respect to setting your withdrawal rate and maybe why you think the 4% guideline really does not work in the FIRE context.

Hester: Yeah, the 4%, I'm just going to shorthand it as "the rule" because that's what we most frequently call it even though I always put rule in quotation marks and do criticize it as you said. The main reason that it doesn't work, I think, honestly for all retirees, but especially for early retirees is that it is fundamentally based on the idea that all of your expenses will keep up with inflation or actually get cheaper over time. And we live in a world in which that's no longer true primarily for one reason, and that's healthcare. Healthcare right now is increasing at about 3 times the rate of inflation every single year. And that's not an expense that you can frugal your way out of. You can save money on groceries; you can choose to live in a very inexpensive home and an inexpensive place. But healthcare costs what it costs for the most part, and even when we have different cost models put in place to try to give consumers more choices, we find that we as consumers are actually really lousy judges of what is effective and important for our health and what isn't. So, it's just a world in which we have to expect our expenses to go up every single year and that immediately tosses essentially any safe withdrawal rate, but especially the 4% safe withdrawal rate.

And so, again, this is heavily influenced by Big ERN, Karsten Jeske, who writes that blog Early Retirement Now, but he's done a lot of analysis to show that a 3% or even a 3.5% safe withdrawal rate is much safer. And I tend to push people to go as close to 3% as you can because of healthcare but also because, again, future unknown impacts of climate change, which early retirees are much more vulnerable to than our older people who have fewer years to spend on the planet to see what's going to happen. And we also see things like housing and groceries, things really right now are outpacing inflation at alarming rates. So, we have to account for that.

In terms of our plan, we have a pretty complicated spreadsheet that I don't necessarily recommend anyone replicate. Both my husband and I each built our own models, and then built in different sets of assumptions. And then looked at them and found that they matched and felt like that was pretty good confirmation. And so, we built our plan around that and it's also--again, in case that's not clear to folks, it's very conservative. We are basing it on 1% to 2% real returns over time adjusted for inflation, which is, I think, by anyone's measure, really, really conservative. And we have, again, that cash cushion and multiple contingencies. We could downsize our home, for example, or sell our rental property. So, we have these things built in that not everyone will be able to replicate.

I think having a plan, building in a safe withdrawal rate, assuming low returns, assuming minimal Social Security, things like that, those are good ways to make the plan safe, where you don't necessarily have to do all the bellyaching that we did in building a plan. But certainly, the more contingencies you can build in or the more questions you can think about, the better.

Ptak: What assumptions are you making for nonhealthcare inflation in those models that you've constructed, and has that changed recently?

Hester: We tend to aim a little bit high in terms of what the Fed and others project. So, we're aiming for 2.5% to 3% inflation year-over-year for nonhealthcare. But I do think--you know, we're expecting to see some inflationary effects from the stimulus package; there may be more of those. We'll have to reassess that and see where we are.

Benz: You have an interesting system for actually extracting cash flows from your portfolio, deciding which assets to tap for cash. Can you talk about that--about how you set that up?

Hester: We use a pretty simple CAPE Median strategy. So, we are just looking at the ratio and looking at therefore, should we sell stocks or bonds right now. Until January of this year, we were selling only stocks based on that because stocks have obviously been priced high relative to CAPE, but ...

Benz: So, cyclically adjusted P/E ratio is CAPE.

Hester: Yes, exactly. Thank you. And so, that's something that we have felt good about thus far. But again, like everything, we may be revisiting that in the future. We're not wed to that approach for the duration, but it's what we've used thus far.

Benz: So, just to expound on that, the basic idea in play is that when stocks look expensive based on CAPE, you would be a seller of stocks and then when they become more fairly priced, you would leave them alone and potentially sell other assets?

Hester: Yes, that's right. And I should say our investment strategy is pretty simple and straightforward. We own about five different funds in the bulk of our taxable investments, and they're all index funds. So, we've got some bond index funds, primarily stock index funds, but we've got some ability to look at those across S&P versus total market. But it's not like we're comparing 100 different assets to one another.

Ptak: And so, by CAPE stocks have looked relatively expensive for a while now. So, is an (implication) that you've been drawing steadily on the equity part of your allocation, and do you find yourself at a time like this skewing more heavily towards cash and fixed-income investments for that reason?

Hester: I think theoretically, yes, that would be true. In reality, we got a little bit of a head start by not needing to withdraw from our taxable investments in our first year of retirement because we accidentally earned a little bit of money that we weren't planning to earn. And so, that just gave us a little bit of extra cushion. And we started withdrawing in earnest last year. And as you said, stocks have looked expensive. So, we've exclusively sold those. We did our last sale back in January. And we typically would sell about a quarter's worth of expenses in shares to convert to cash. But we did a little bit more than that because we had a feeling that the virus was going to get bad and things are going to turn down. I am not a stock-picker or a stock-timer. But we did get lucky with that prediction. And so, we're in a position to get to wait until sometime this summer, perhaps even later, because I think like everyone, we're not spending on things like travel right now. So, our expenses are lower than usual, which is stretching things. But once we get to summer, then we'll be able to look at where things are. And yes, we might potentially start tapping into some of those bond holdings. Or we might just decide to stick with the cash cushion depending where things are. So, it's an adaptive strategy that will continue to evolve.

And I'm certainly not an investment pro like you two are. So, I would not pretend to have the knowledge that you have. We really are fans of trying to have an informed but simple approach to both investing and withdrawal that doesn't require a lot of complicated calculations that honestly we just aren't qualified to make.

Benz: You talked a little bit about inflation and what sort of expectations you're modeling in there. How about tax rates? How do you get your arms around, like how to think about what taxes will be much later in your retirement? Do you give any thought to that? Or do you just extrapolate out from where taxes are now?

Hester: Yeah, it's a good question. And I don't think that we have a clear sense like any one of what to expect in the future. So, we're primarily looking at what we expect to pay now. We have also looked at what would happen if tax rates went higher. A really nice thing about early retirement because we don't have anything--you know, this may be the only time I ever say it's nice not to get something like Social Security. But the nice thing is we do actually have a ton of control over what our taxable income ends up being. Dividends are really the X factor, the thing we can't control at all. We do have a little tiny bit of rental income, although that is mostly erased by depreciation, which will give us another 22 years or so of protection there. But in terms of what we sell, we can reverse engineer that to some extent. And so, that's a really nice thing about both the tax rate and healthcare costs because early retirees, before you qualify for Medicare, are predominantly buying healthcare off the exchanges, and the premium you pay is based on your income. And so, the ability to reverse engineer by either choosing to do or not to do a Roth conversion, by choosing how many shares to sell so that you know exactly what your capital gains are going to be. Things like that give us a lot of ability to adapt. So, that, I think, is just as important as what we project as future tax rates is knowing that we have some ability to kind of wiggle our way through all of that.

Ptak: You recently tweeted one of the things that was giving you peace of mind through this is that you and your husband own your own home. Is owning one's own home an essential ingredient to early retirement?

Hester: It's absolutely not essential. In fact, we probably know more people who are currently retired early who don't own than do. And among those who do own, most of them still have some form of mortgage. We know that we are outliers in both owning the home and being mortgage-free. But I think for the reasons we've talked about, it really is a wonderful thing for peace of mind. One, you know, people will argue all day long about how it's so much better to get the growth of the markets versus paying down a mortgage that's at a fixed low rate. And sure, that's theoretically true. But at a time like this when returns are negative, or when you may not want to have to sell shares to pay that mortgage, not having that payment is a really wonderful bit of insulation. It's also a nice hedge against sequence of returns risk because we're not having to sell shares right now to pay the mortgage. And it's, again, just peace of mind, which I think investors tend to undervalue. We tend to look at paper returns and not kind of the mental and emotional returns. But knowing that right now we've got a roof over our head and, so long as we pay our property tax, we're good is something that is pretty hard to replace. I feel incredibly grateful for that.

But I absolutely don't think it's necessary. People can successfully do this as renters. It's just a different approach. And you have to, I think, build a bit more risk into your model because you have less control over future rental rates, and you're going to know that you're going to have to keep withdrawing stocks at a time when you might not want to in order to pay that rent, but it's certainly something you can work around.

Benz: You referenced that you have rental property, and it seems like that's a familiar theme among many people in the FIRE community that they are subsisting at least in part off of rental income. So, I guess, a question that I sort of turn over in my head related to that is, does that potentially add risk to the plan in that someone's overall financial wherewithal has the potential to be sort of overly leveraged to the community where they live and where they might own a home as well as this rental property? Like how should people think about that issue in terms of thinking about like total net worth?

Hester: Yeah, I appreciate this question a lot. And the truth is, even though we have a rental property, I am not pro rental property. We have a single property that we bought. It was not part of our original plan, but we bought it to be able to house someone we care a lot about who was running out of options, and we, in fact, are negative on cash flow on it. We have to pay a little bit of income tax, which otherwise it would be cash flow neutral. Once it's paid off, we will get meaningful cash flow from it, but that's many years down the road. So, it wasn't something that we did as a source of passive income. And in fact, it is not that.

I think your point about being overly leveraged is a really important one. It's one that I don't think the community talks enough about. And at a time like this, in particular, where you see so many Americans struggling to pay the rent, I think it's a really scary time to be a landlord. And so, knowing that we have one single tenant with a very solid government pension is incredibly comforting. I think if we had multiple units, that would be much, much scarier for us. And so, it can be a great way to achieve financial independence. But I don't think it's a guarantee. And I think that the risk of it is not talked about enough.

Ptak: It sounds like that's an example where you called an audible and improvised a bit just given what life circumstances had presented to you in that moment. What did you take away from that experience? Does it inform the way you plan now?

Hester: Yeah, it certainly wasn't audible. It was something where it did require a big outlay of cash. It does require more work, for example, on our taxes now. It's not something that we ever envisioned. But it feels good to us because to me and to my husband, Mark, there's no point accumulating this level of wealth if we aren't going to use some of it to help people we care about. That is important to us. And so, it did feel like something that was aligned to our values and what's important.

In terms of how it informs things moving forward, you know, I do think we always want to stay flexible to some extent of willing to learn, willing to look at opportunities, but also fundamentally trying to leave things on autopilot as much as possible. I think the biggest thing that we learned was, I looked at that property, I fundamentally made that decision of what to buy, I looked at what the rent market could support and what the house cost and I didn't pay enough attention to what the income tax would be. And so, it felt like we were going to go cash flow neutral, not counting the initial costs, obviously, but it felt neutral from the beginning, but it has never been. It has continued to be negative. And that's a long-term investment we're willing to make because it is something important to us.

But I think that that piece is often just not thought about. I think people tend to look at all their investments, whether it's market investments or real estate, and forget about the tax implications. And that's something that we really do think a lot about now driven in large part by that choice and our experience of it.

Benz: You mentioned your husband, Mark, and I'm curious to know, like how you went through this journey as a couple. Was he on the same page with you? Was someone first to this idea of we should retire early? How did you sort of advance along that road?

Hester: Yeah, I hear from a lot of couples, or especially men in hetero couples who tend to say, "You know, I can't get my wife on board with this. How do I get my wife on board?" And I think, you know, we did not have that experience. We were both instantly on board. We even joked about early retirement well before we actually started envisioning any kind of plan. For me, it was very driven by the fact that my dad has a genetic disability and I knew that that was likely in my future. And so, I didn't want to put all of my big life goals off until my 60s when I might have very limited mobility. And so, that was my primary motivator. And I think for Mark, it was very much, you know, we were both in really high-stress, taxing careers and recognizing what a toll that was taking on us. And I think he didn't want to live that life for another 40 years. So, those two things together, as soon as we realized that this was actually possible, we were both there.

But I think that that really stems from the fact that we both have had from the beginning a really clear, shared vision of what we want life to be, and what's important to us. And that's, I think, where I recommend people start the conversation--is not what expenses can we cut, or what isn't necessary, which tends to feel like a very blame-driven conversation, but instead come from a place of, "Hey, at the end of this, like, what do we want to be able to look back on? What do we want to say we did, what do we want to have accomplished, and what does that life actually look like and then how do we shape our money to help us get there?"

Ptak: And so, if I may, how would you answer that question right now, like living a life of purpose and sort of when you get to the end of this what you've left behind not to cut to, in some ways, it's like the ultimate question. But since you're on that topic may as well elaborate a bit.

Hester: Yeah. I mean, I wrote a chapter of the book all about this. So, I think these are good questions to be asking. And we often don't give ourselves that time to think about that. We're so focused on the day to day that we don't look at the big picture of: What do I really want this to add up to? What is my life heading toward right now? And is that where I want it to be heading? For us, we did a lot of this work early on in the planning to actually get granular and not just say, "OK, like, we have this broad vision together, but we really said--what does that look like?" And we boiled it down to three different thematic areas that we think our life focuses on, which is creativity, service, and adventure and all the better if a couple of those can overlap. So, we love world travel. We're not able to do that right now with all the travel lockdowns and whatnot. But we hope to be able to do that again at some point soon. Service is really important to us. We're both presidents of local nonprofit boards, and we volunteer in other ways, and I view in many ways my blog and podcast as service projects because they are not for profit. And so, those are things that really feed my soul. And Mark would say the same thing about his volunteer work.

And then, creativity manifests in a lot of different ways. But it's writing and podcasting and doing things that are musically focused. We go to a lot of concerts and festivals. That's important to us. And so, that feels right to us. We've been test driving that concept for a few years now. And it feels like we've got about the right mix. So, we always want to keep contributing to society in some way, whatever that looks like as we go through life. I couldn't tell you what that will look like in our 60s compared to now. But I think thematically it will be similar.

Benz: I want to talk about kind of the budgeting side of all of this, like how you make it work, because you have talked about how this doesn't need to be a life of deprivation. Let's talk about how people can kind of thread that needle and balance spending on things that are important to them versus making a FIRE plan work.

Hester: Yeah. I think when we talk about budgeting, people tend to come to that as an exercise in "What do I need to give up?" And I think for us, we definitely have the experience of trying that and failing miserably at it and figuring, you know, hey, we are not line-item budget folks. And so, early on, we realized that what worked for us was to only keep money in our checking account that we were allowed to spend. Any money that had to be accounted for elsewhere, we would move out immediately. So, some of it would go straight to savings, some would go to a separate fund for things like rent or for big insurance bills, that kind of thing. And any money there, as long as we didn't overdraft, as long as we were good on cash and could make it to the next payday, we were OK. And knowing that that worked for us, we really instituted a system that I love and think will work for a lot of folks who don't necessarily feel like they are great at saving, which is what I think of as the un-budget or non-budget, which is just hide money from yourself.

And so, I started very simply when I was early in my career by having my paycheck split, so $50 of every paycheck went to savings. And I didn't really see that money. And a few months later, I looked and had a few hundred. And sure, that's not a huge amount of money, but it's more than I had ever saved at that point. And we continued to use that strategy till the very end. So, using that to increase our automatic investing year-over-year whenever we got a raise, increasing our 401(k) contributions until we were maxing out. And so, the idea was, we tried to just keep our level of spending even year-to-year. We tried not to inflate our lifestyle. And then as we get raises, we would funnel all that new money or any bonuses we got into our investments or into paying off the mortgage so that we didn't feel deprived. We didn't feel like "Look at all the stuff we're giving up." We just felt like, "Hey, we're just living our lives. We're not inflating it, but we're very comfortable. And as our income grows, so do our investments."

If that works for folks, I think that can be an incredibly effective strategy. It maybe doesn't feel like you're saving a ton in year one or year two, but over time, it really, really grows. I also think this moment in time could in a strange way be an opportunity because we are all at home right now. And most of us are spending less, and it's a good way whenever we get back to whatever that new normal looks like to say, "OK, what are the things I want to add back and to be really intentional about those?" To say, "OK, well, I lived without this thing for however many months it ends up being, do I really need to spend money on it again?" And there's a good chance that for a lot of us will realize that there were things we never needed to begin with. And so, if we can avoid spending on those, it's a good opportunity to save.

Ptak: It sounds like for you one of the things that you can't live without is travel. We've referenced the fact that you and your husband love to travel. And so, maybe you could talk about just that aspect of your budgeting and how you make that work and make it affordable. And I suppose it only makes sense for you to also talk about what the first place you would like to go to once COVID leaves? Where that's going to be?

Hester: We are really hoping that we can go to Japan again. We went there in our last year of work and loved it. And we've been talking about seeing if we could go there next winter, maybe to ski and then also have some time in the cities. So, we'll see if that's possible. But yes, absolutely, we love travel. To us, it's really the centerpiece of early retirement. And it's the thing we couldn't do much when we were working. We could travel for maybe a week at a time. But now we generally go for about a month or so to different countries. And it feels so different in the best way possible.

In terms of budgeting, we do a few different things. So, the first is we try to travel off-peak. We spent a month in France the year before last, and that was in November. And so, yeah, it's still France, it's still expensive, but it was so much cheaper going in November than it would have been going in August and it was still for the most part totally lovely. A few things were closed; we had rain some days, but it was still a terrific trip. And so, a lot of our travel tends to be spring and fall in kind of that shoulder season, when there are so many more deals to be had, places are a lot less crowded. And that's really our first strategy. Beyond that, we have a ton of travel points that we accumulated back when we were working. So, we're sitting on a few million airline miles, some credit card points and hotel points as well. We've spent down a lot of the hotel points, but we are able to subsidize things. So, we'll tend to pay for independent hotels in smaller places, but then use the hotel points on hotels in the big cities. So, we stayed at the Renaissance in Paris on Marriott points, same in Leon. And we've done the same thing in other places. So, we use the points and cash kind of interchangeably but look at how we're getting the best value and that helps us cut some of the prices down.

Benz: Thinking about how other people could potentially adopt an early retirement, what are some of the key questions that you would urge someone to ask if they're thinking about this sort of lifestyle change?

Hester: Yeah. I don't think that early retirement is for everyone. If you're a person who says, "Well, what would I do all day?" then by all means keep working. There, I think is no desire among any of us in the community to push people to say you have to quit your job. For a lot of folks, work provides purpose and meaning and joy and social interaction. And those are all really important things to consider that I think, frankly, we don't talk about enough. I think people don't often say, "I'm retiring early, and here are the things I'm going to miss about work, or here are the things that I'm going to have to work hard to replace, because I'm not going to get that sense of community or that sense of being valued anymore."

So, for those who do have a long list of things you want to do, that's great. I think ask yourself are there things in your life right now that you're spending money on that you would be willing to give up to get to that future vision, not that this is all about deprivation, but most of us do tend to spend all the money we earn and that's just sort of how our society works and how our economy works. But if there are some things you could see yourself cutting back on, or if you could even just commit to keeping things level and not spending more when you get a raise, and then you can commit to your career in a really big way, assuming that we still have careers to go back to at the end of this recession, crisis, whatever it ends up being. But if you can find a way to either trim or grow or preferably both, and then you can be clear-eyed about what it is that you'll be losing--we tend to say, "Hey, you know, work is stressful, therefore, all of work is bad, or I don't like this thing about work, so therefore, I don't like anything about work," and that's just not true. It's important to look into the nuance and say, "OK, this part is frustrating, but this part feeds my soul in some way or this part makes me feel valued or makes me feel smart or feel talented, or feel part of a community in some way." And then, ask yourself, "Am I willing to do the work to replace those things outside of work?" So, it might mean doing a lot of hard work to form new communities. It might mean getting involved in things that take a lot of effort. It could mean any number of things, and it's going to differ based on what it is that you currently get out of work. But it's important to know, "OK, yes, I will do the work to replace that." And if not, then I would say, hey, save more, invest what you can, but sit tight, keep working until you have a vision or a feeling of commitment to the work that's going to come once you get to the next step.

Ptak: What's one thing you learned that you wish you had known before you retired?

Hester: Oh, gosh, so many things. I think it's important to say early retirement life is not perfect. You're still you, things still happen that cause you stress. People still have challenges in their relationship. Everyone I know who has been in a couple has gone through some solid stress after retiring, because you have to figure out essentially entirely new life roles with one another and that is a big thing, even if it's positive and by choice. And so, that's important to acknowledge and in fact, I know quite a few couples who've split up after retiring early. I think that's important to acknowledge, too. But I think the biggest thing is really that we wish we had gone a little bit more slowly in the journey. We went from setting our early retirement goals to retiring in about six years. And that was, of course, not starting from scratch. We had some home equity; we had some traditional retirement savings. But it was still a really, really quick timeline. And I think in hindsight, we wish we had given ourselves another year or two, taken all our vacation time, spent a little bit more money while we were working instead of being so focused on savings. Because, you know, we still were able to do this at a very young age. If we'd take a year or two longer, we still had been young. It's not a rush. I think that's an important thing that I'd love to go back and tell past me is enjoy the journey more, enjoy this chapter of life of work.

Benz: I have a more mundane question, which is the role of Social Security in your plan. I think you've indicated that you're not really putting a lot of weight on having Social Security with respect to your plan. So, let's talk about how people should think about that and potentially haircut their expected Social Security benefit to account for potential changes to the program.

Hester: Yeah, it's true. We do not count on Social Security. And if we get it, we'll view that as gravy to your earlier question about taxes. If we do get Social Security, and that pushes us up into a higher tax bracket, there's never a point at which your marginal tax rate reaches 100%. So, we'll still be better off if we do get it. What I recommend to folks is that you count it or don't count it kind of depending on your age now. If you're already over 55, there's a pretty good chance that you're going to get it close to the levels that we're seeing now. And so, counting on it, but maybe at a reduced level, like maybe 70% of what your expected current benefit is, is a good idea.

The challenge with early retirement is Social Security is factored on your 35 highest earning years and if you retire in your 30s, 40s, or even 50s, you might have quite a few zero years in there, because it only looks at earned income, not passive income. And so, you're going to have a very reduced benefit regardless. And so, counting on very little Social Security or even none is really smart for those especially under 50 right now. But for those over--if you're counting on it, what you can do is you can think of it as kind of a healthcare buffer. The projections right now are that within the next decade 100% of the average Social Security check is going to pay for medical expenses above and beyond what Medicare covers. So, that's going to be really tragic news for people who are wholly reliant on Social Security and have no other resources to pay those medical bills. But for folks who've been able to save additional, that can sort of serve as a buffer to cover those unaccounted-for healthcare expenses that maybe even go beyond that 10%, 15% inflation that we're all currently counting. So, that's my recommendation. I think it's OK to count it to some extent, but I think for everyone, regardless of age, don't count on the full projection at this moment because it almost certainly will go down.

Ptak: You mentioned healthcare, and paying for healthcare is one of the huge obstacles for would-be early retirees. How do you and your husband handle that and factor it into the planning that you do and all the possible eventualities that could await either of you?

Hester: I'll be honest. It is by far the most anxiety-producing part of the plan just because there is so much in it that could change. Healthcare is so politicized in this country. The current structure of the exchanges and some advanced tax credits to help people pay for it, that could all go away. We could go back to a world in which we're reliant on catastrophic coverage only. We hope to always have traditional health insurance. We aren't interested in these alternative options that save money but sacrifice a lot of potential peace of mind in the process. And so, we right now are really trying to be conservative and projecting high increases year-over-year. We always project to be able to spend up to the out-of-pocket maximum in addition to premiums if we need to. And that gives us so far because we haven't needed that it gives us a nice wiggle room in the budget. But that to me should really be a nonnegotiable for folks is making sure that you can always afford good, solid, reliable health insurance. Good not meaning that you're going to love the insurance every moment, we still live in America, but that you're not going to be reliant on something that may or may not ultimately pay your bills. And so, yeah, there are no easy answers on this, because it is just something that feels a bit like trying to stand on quicksand. But we've tried to account for that as much as we could by just dramatically overbudgeting.

Benz: What about Medicare? We talked about Social Security, but do you factor in potential changes to Medicare with respect to your plan?

Hester: That's a hard question because for us Medicare is still at least 22 years away for Mark, right. And it's entirely possible that the enrollment age could push back later by the time we get there. So, there are just such a vast number of unknowns that we really don't try to forecast what that's going to look like. But what we have done is we've built in our two-phase plan where we're living off taxable investments now, and we'll shift to tax-advantaged investments later, is if things go at even a very, very modest growth rate between now and then, we will be able to double or possibly even triple our spending by the time we get to our 60s. And that's by design. That's because I don't necessarily want to clear the snow off my driveway when I'm 60. I would like to be able to stay at a nicer hotel perhaps when we travel instead of staying in the budget-basement kind of places where we stay now. And so, that's always been part of the vision. But it was also very much to allow extra funding for healthcare things because there are just so many unknowns. Mark and I both have health conditions in addition to all this. So, we know that we're going to have expenses, but we don't know what the system is going to be like to provide for us. And so, for us, it's just about adding as much cushion to our spending in the future as we can.

Ptak: You may have mentioned it before, but in terms of how your plans have formed around things like long-term care, or maybe how you would advise others who are in a different life stage to think about long-term care, especially if they're planning for early retirement. Do you advise insurance? Are there other solutions that you would favor?

Hester: I really am keeping an eye on this. At this moment, I don't think that the existing options for long-term care insurance are particularly great. For most people, they're very expensive. There is no guarantee that the level of benefits will stay steady over time even if you keep paying your premium unlike other types of insurance. And so, even if you buy a product, there's no guarantee it's actually going to provide what it says now it will provide at the time when you need it. And so, I really lean toward people putting themselves in position where they can age in place because Medicare covers almost no nursing home coverage. They cover very short rehabilitation center stays if you do something like break a hip and you need a little bit of help relearning how to walk. But then, you're expected to go back home. And they're not going to pay for that stuff long-term. But they will cover some level of in-home care. So, a really good way to insulate yourself and what we're doing is ensuring that we always live in a home where home healthcare workers could come in, where we could set up a hospital bed if needed, where we could function even if we can only live on one level, things like that. I think that the movement toward tiny houses or RV living is great when you're younger, but you need to be able to have flexibility in your plan to live in a different arrangement later on so that you can stay at home and aging in place and therefore give yourself a little bit of insulation. But certainly, I hope that as we go through the years and decades that we're going to have more of an understanding of people's needs as they age, and that hopefully Medicare coverage will become a bit more generous.

Ptak: Well, Tanja, this has been great. Thanks so much for your time and insights and for sharing your perspective with our listeners. We really enjoyed having you in The Long View.

Hester: Thanks so much for having me. This was terrific.

Benz: Thanks, Tanja.

Ptak: Thanks again.

Thanks for joining us on The Long View. If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to and rate The Long View from Morningstar on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Benz: You can follow us on Twitter @Christine_Benz.

Ptak: And at @Syouth1, which is, S-Y-O-U-T-H and the number 1.

Finally, we'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or a guest idea, please email us at TheLongView@Morningstar.com. Until next time, thanks for joining us.

(Disclaimer: This recording is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed are as of the date of recording. Such opinions are subject to change. The views and opinions of guests on this program are not necessarily those of Morningstar, Inc. and its affiliates. Morningstar and its affiliates are not affiliated with this guest or his or her business affiliates unless otherwise stated. Morningstar does not guarantee the accuracy, or the completeness of the data presented herein. Jeff Ptak is an employee of Morningstar Research Services LLC. Morningstar Research Services is a subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. and is registered with and governed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Morningstar Research Services shall not be responsible for any trading decisions, damages or other losses resulting from or related to the information, data analysis or opinions or their use. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Individuals should seriously consider if an investment is suitable for them by referencing their own financial position, investment objectives and risk profile before making any investment decision.)

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Tanja Hester: The Pandemic Will Stoke Interest in Early Retirement - Morningstar.com

Powerful Proof Anyone Can Invest for an Early Retirement – June 04, 2020 – Yahoo Finance

Building sufficient financial resources to retire early may sound like a dream, but making that dream come true is not as hard as it may sound. The main thing is simply to save more money each month. No big deal, right? Well ...

The typical rule of thumb given by financial planners is to have a goal of saving up to 20% of total earnings. But if you want to retire when you're younger, that percentage will probably need to be more like 40% to 50% of your income. Of course, that's not so simple since a big part of your paycheck goes to day-to-day, necessary expenses. So if you want to save that much, you need to make some serious lifestyle adjustments. It requires making changes, but it's doable.

A generally new development called Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) has been created around this "sacrifice and over-save now to retire early" idea. FIRE supporters create exacting savings plans (up to 75% of income) and make related compromises like living in small homes, walking to work every day, prohibitive weight control plans, etc. This way might be unreasonably prohibitive for many, yet the mentality offers a few takeaways that may merit consideration.

The first point is to adhere to the key principles of long-term investing, including developing a diversified portfolio that includes stocks with various styles, sizes, sectors and regions.

To speed up the retirement investment cycle, you can build a portfolio structured with more risk - and the potential for higher returns. It should in any case be adequately diversified to safeguard against sharper than normal market downturns that can be hard to recuperate from and that can ruin any opportunity to achieve your early retirement goal. There are various strategies to diversify a portfolio, and how you do so should be guided by your age, your risk appetite, your growth and income needs, and your long-term objectives.

Once you've begun saving at a higher rate and you have an investment plan, put that money to work in your plan as quickly as you can. Don't worry about finding the "perfect time" to invest - simply put the money in and keep it in. Let compounding work to help you grow your retirement savings at an exponential rate.

Growth stocks with low beta, strong earnings estimates, positive sales growth, and expected future growth are an excellent way to determine investable growth stocks for your retirement.

Zacks offers investors useful rankings for lower risk growth stocks for retirement portfolios. The following are a few selections that merit a closer look: Global Medical REIT (GMRE), Clearway Energy (CWEN) and Farmers National Banc (FMNB). Earnings and revenue has seen growth of at least 5% or higher over the last five years, with a beta of 1 or lower.

Do You Know the Top 9 Retirement Investing Mistakes?

Whether you're planning to retire early or not, don't let investing mistakes derail your plans.

If you have $500,000 or more to invest and want to learn more, click the link to download our free report, 9 Retirement Mistakes that will Ruin Your Retirement.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free reportFarmers National Banc Corp. (FMNB) : Free Stock Analysis ReportGlobal Medical REIT Inc. (GMRE) : Free Stock Analysis ReportClearway Energy, Inc. (CWEN) : Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research

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Powerful Proof Anyone Can Invest for an Early Retirement - June 04, 2020 - Yahoo Finance

Digital nomads stranded in Mexico demonstrate the appeal of the retire-early movement – Yucatn Expat Life

Ali and Alison Walker have found freedom from building aggressive savings as a financial cushion. Photo: Facebook

The coronavirus crisis and the lack of a reliable job market may lead more people to investigate the FIRE philosophy. That is, Financial Independence, Retire Early.

Two forty-somethings sold their Seattle home, said goodbye to their jobs, and set off on an around-the-world journey in 2018 as part of the FIRE movement. They could not have known the true significance of that decision.

At the time, U.S. markets were still on the upswing and all was well for Ali and Alison Walker.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic. The Walkers investments took a huge hit and they found themselves confined to an Airbnb in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, because of travel restrictions. They eventually got a flight out, leaving in May instead of March, and documented their adventure online.

The FIRE adherents had solid nest eggs, allowing them financial flexibility at a critical moment, because they had pursued their goals by saving aggressively, according to a profile recently published in Barrons.

We planned for some type of a black-swan event, said Ali, who worked in marketing and business development. We couldnt have planned for the coronavirus, but we assumed there would be a tough bear market or a prolonged down market for one reason or another.

Just as people flocked to the movement in the wake of the 2008 recession, the current crisis may lead yet more people to FIRE strategies.

What part of biggest unemployment spike in history makes you want to be more reliant on your job? says Tanja Hester, author of the book Work Optional and the FIRE blog Our Next Life. Its a huge reminder that workers are expendable, and there isnt a great safety net out there for us.

The Walkers set aside five years of cash to cover their expenses in the case of a sustained downturn and decided on a conservative annual withdrawal rate of 3% of their savings. They also gave themselves plenty of wiggle room in their budget to pare back expenses if needed.

One of the great things about the FIRE movement is that it talks a lot about the different scenarios you should prepare for before deciding to retire, says the 56-year-old Alison, who had worked retouching images for catalogs and corporate clients.

Marcus Miller, a financial planner who specializes in working with FIRE clients, says the philosophy attracts disciplined investors of a cautious mindset. If you take a look at the people who comprise the FIRE movement, its people who often live below their means and have built this war chest to live off of. They may be better equipped to weather a storm like this than the majority of Americans.

Timing is everything, says Matt Ryan, a financial planner at San Diegobased Creative Capital Management Investments. Two months ago, the people who are close to financial independence and retiring may have been pretty close to their goals, he says. But now they may have to adjust their timing.

Grant Sabatier, a personal-finance blogger and author of Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need, said now may be a difficult time to pursue a FIRE lifestyle. But he said that this is a good moment to take the time to understand their values and plan how they want to save, spend and invest in the future.

Use this moment while were all stuck inside to figure out your relationship with money and how to be more intentional about it when this is all over.

Source: Barrons

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Digital nomads stranded in Mexico demonstrate the appeal of the retire-early movement - Yucatn Expat Life

Done with Divorce FREE Webinar From the Comfort of Your Home – Patch.com

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Done with Divorce FREE Webinar From the Comfort of Your Home - Patch.com

5 High-Yield Blue-Chips I’m Buying For My Retirement Portfolio In This Overvalued Market – Seeking Alpha

(Source: Imgflip)

Are you feeling a bit giddy right now? Perhaps even a tad euphoric? No one could blame you if you were, given how red hot the stock market has been over the past few months.

S&P 500 & My Phoenix Portfolio's Top Winners Since March 23rd Low

(Source: YCharts)

Right now what some analysts have dubbed the "hopium" rally, driven in part by TINA (there is no alternative), FOMO (fear of missing out) and QE infinity, has led to some of the highest market valuations in US history.

On Forward P/E Basis, S&P 500 Is Approaching Severe Bubble Territory

(Source: Brian Gilmartin, Reuters/Refinitiv/IBES/Lipper Financial)

How historic is this hopium meltup?

The current record for the most overvalued market in history was set on March 24th, 2000, when the S&P 500 hit a forward P/E of 27.2, 66% above the 25-year average of 16.4.

If the S&P 500 rises just 9.6% more, then it would achieve a forward P/E of 27.3, and set a new record for the most overvalued market in US history.

But just because we're either in a bubble or rapidly approaching one, doesn't necessarily mean the market will necessarily correct soon.

According to research from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Princeton

This is why valuation alone cannot be used to time the market with precision or consistency. What higher valuations do tell us is that future long-term returns are likely to be far smaller.

At the end of May, the forward P/E on the market, by JPMorgan's estimates, correlated to expected five-year returns of near zero.

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research)

If we exclude the Dot-Com bubble, then the 20-year average blended P/E for the S&P 500 has been 17.0, the market-determined fair value for stocks in the modern era.

If earnings grow as expected through 2022 and the market returns to the value hundreds of millions of investors, risking real money, have determined is long-term fair value, then the consensus return potential over the next 2.5 years is about 3% CAGR.

I define a bubble as when forward two to three-year consensus return potential is zero or negative.

So on a blended P/E basis, we're not quite there yet, but we're darn close.

In a market that seems to have lost its senses, and is driven by irrational exuberance and blind hope that nothing bad will happen over the next 2.5 years, why am I still buying stocks?

The Biggest Bubble In US History Still Provided Plenty Of Great Buying Opportunities

(Source: YCharts)

From mid-1998 to March 24th, 2000, quality blue-chips like Realty Income (O) and Berkshire (BRK.B) (NYSE:BRK.A) severely underperformed the market and tech stocks shot to the moon.

Foolish momentum traders (myself included at the time) dreamed of 100% annual returns every year.

As a nine-year-old investing my life savings into the tech bubble at the time, I recall asking my mother, with all earnestness "Where will I invest my trillions in a few years?"

Oh, had I known then the three kinds of risks all equity investors face.

Had I chased not mad dreams of fast fortunes but stuck to a disciplined strategy built on the time-tested principles of true wealth compounding, I would be a multi-millionaire by now. Realty Income in March 2000 was trading at 7X FFO, about 50% historically undervalued at the time. Berkshire was trading at similar discounts to its historical book value.

The world then seemed to abandon all sense of valuation and sound risk management, but history ultimately vindicated the Warren Buffetts of the world.

The Market Can't Stay Irrational Forever

(Source: YCharts)

Normally few stocks go up in a bear market, but when prices become extremely detached from fundamentals, quality blue-chips can indeed rise during a historic market crash.

I'm not counting on anything I buy in the short term to go up in an inevitable market decline. Rather, I am counting on the time-tested principles of quality dividend-paying blue-chips, bought at reasonable to fair valuations, and then held for the long term, to help me achieve my goals of financial independence.

In the coming week, I'm planning on buying small amounts (about $500 in each) of

I buy one good deal or better blue-chip each day, as the "daily Phoenix portfolio buy" announced on the Dividend Kings' chat board three times each day.

Each buy is small, with the goal of gradually building up my cash/bond allocation (28% right now) by about $1000 to $1500 per month, while waiting for an inevitable market downturn.

(Source: Imgflip)

Why these five Phoenix watchlist blue-chips? Because even in this overheated market, they fulfill the goals of prudent long-term income investors.

Fundamental Stats On These 5 High-Yield Blue-Chips

These five blue-chips are some of the highest quality dividend payers in the world, as seen by their average credit rating of A-, stable outlook.

(Source: S&P)

S&P and other rating agencies base ratings on formulas that calculate historical default risk based on initial ratings.

And since bond defaults often result in bankruptcies, these are highly correlated with long-term bankruptcy risk for companies.

(Source: The University of St. Petersburg)

The probability of these five companies going to zero is about 2.5% each. The probability of all five of them going bust within the next 30 years, is about 1 in 102.4 million. Granted that's assuming a normal probability universe, which we don't live in.

But the point is that these five high-yield blue-chips meet all three criteria of prudent long-term income investing.

Think I'm being overly bullish about those probability-weighted estimates? Take a look at these companies' consensus return potentials through 2022.

That's estimated by taking the 2022 EPS consensus and assuming each company returns to its long-term, historical market-determined fair value multiple during periods of similar fundamentals and growth rates.

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research) Now compare that to the S&P 500, and the horrible consensus return potential investors just buying the broader market, blind to dangerous valuations, might see in the short term.

S&P 500 2020 Consensus Total Return Potential

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research)

S&P 500 2021 Consensus Return Potential

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research)

S&P 500 2022 Consensus Return Potential

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research)

In case you think that "this time is different" and that the market's earnings multiple will be permanently higher due to low-interest rates, and future debt-fueled stock buybacks, consider this.

Since 2009 we've had all the same conditions that are expected to continue in the future.

What was the market-determined fair value blended P/E during this time? 19? 20? 25?

Average Blended P/E Over Last 11 Years Was 17.0, Exactly The Same As The 20-Year Average

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs, FactSet Research)

Low-interest rates and copious buybacks didn't inflate the market-determined fair value of stocks above its long-term modern era historical norm, and likely won't do so in the future either.

Now compare the S&P 500 on the 3 goals of prudent long-term income investors.

(Source: Imgflip)

The goal of prudent long-term investing is generating sufficient returns and income to achieve your personal goals while taking the least amount of risk possible.

Am I claiming that AbbVie, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, Philip Morris, and MDU Resources are going to keep rocketing higher as they have in the past few months?

These 5 Stocks, S&P and Dividend Aristocrats Since March 23rd

(Source: YCharts)

Of course not, that was potentially a bear market low. The short-term gains you see after bear market lows are, in the words of Ben Carlson, "epic face-ripping rallies."

However, I've not focused on the short term.

My long-term goal is achieving financial independence with quality companies, run by competent and trustworthy management, that are paying me generous, safe, and steadily growing income in all economic and market conditions.

Dividend Sensei's Real Money Phoenix Portfolio Bucket

(Source: Morningstar) -28% cash/bond allocation not shown

Like my fellow Dividend King, Nick Ward, I divide my retirement portfolio into buckets. This is my Phoenix bucket, made up entirely of Dividend Kings Phoenix Portfolio daily buys that we make each day.

The official DK Phoenix portfolio is run using these risk-management guidelines, and my overall retirement portfolio is as well.

In a world of unprecedented pandemic, economic and earnings uncertainty, with risks to the market rising on a daily basis, I sleep very well at night knowing my hard-earned savings are entrusted to the skilled management at these financially strong companies.

Is a market downturn coming at some point? You better believe it.

Will I lose sleep when it arrives? No, because my long-term financial goals don't rely on luck, but uses sound and time-tested risk-management and long-term investing principles to create my own luck.

(Source: AZ Quotes)

In 24 years of investing experience, I've learned what doesn't work, trying to get rich quickly.

In 6.5 years as an analyst, I've learned what does work, which is making, in the words of Charlie Munger, "consistently not stupid" decisions.

(Source: imgflip)

Let the market blow its hopium/TINA/FOMO/QE Infinity Bubble. Perhaps we'll even set a new record in terms of historical overvaluation.

At the end of the day, those whose savings are safety ensconced in a bunker SWAN portfolio have nothing to fear from the future, nor do we need to have crystal balls to meet our long-term goals.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dividend Kings helps you determine the best safe dividend stocks to buy via our Valuation Tool, Research Terminal & Phoenix Watchlist. Membership also includes

Click here for a two-week free trial so we can help you achieve better long-term total returns and your financial dreams.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ABBV, BNS, BMO, PM. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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5 High-Yield Blue-Chips I'm Buying For My Retirement Portfolio In This Overvalued Market - Seeking Alpha

The Many Benefits of Accounting Advisers to Corporate Finance: Through COVID-19 and Beyond – FEI Daily

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COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented health and economic crisis,and no industry is immune. While many company executives are consumed with understanding and responding to the effects of the pandemic on their global operations and business continuity plans, finance departments are exhaustively working to understand the accounting and financial reporting implications. Coupled with an already daunting task of implementing a host of new and complex accounting standards over the last few years, including standards that impact the way revenue is recognized and the way leases and credit losses are accounted for, the spotlight on finance departments has never been hotter. How corporate finance teams respond in the face of all these challenges, old and new, could have a significant impact on how a company emerges from COVID-19,and how the company performs and grows in a post-COVID-19 global business economy.

All organizations, regardless of whether they have direct exposure to or a presence in areas affected by COVID-19, will need to consider accounting and reporting implications given the pervasive impact the virus is having around the world and across industries. The current and highly fluid market environment is making it even harder for finance teams to estimate future earnings and cash flows, prompting them to take a closer look at valuations and assess their assets for potential impairments. At the same time, they are evaluating the impacts of myriad governmental and regulatory relief solutions that may be available to their companies. On top of all that, availing themselves of available relief often causes its own challenges for a finance function. For example, the SEC recently announced that it is providing conditional extensions of filing deadlines for public companies whose financial reporting may be impacted by coronavirus yet, navigating how and under what conditions a company can qualify for this option can also be a complex exercise.

Documenting complex transactions and their related accounting conclusions can be extremely challenging for finance departments even before COVID-19 given todays complex standards for internal controls over financial reporting. Adding to the challenge is an expectation of finance departments to do more specifically, to create value across the entire business. Independent external auditors can certainly provide help identifying applicable guidance and discussing the application of such guidance. External auditors, however, are limited by independence regulations. Factoring in COVID-19makes the magnitude of the challenges that much greater.

Rather than go it alone, corporate finance leaders may consider tapping into accounting advisers and other third-party professionals who can advise on the more technical accounting and financial reporting issues at play. Here are several ways an effective accounting adviser can help senior finance leaders amidst the pandemic and thereafter:

As businesses continue to manage lost revenue, disrupted supply chains and volatility in financial markets as a result of COVID-19, preparing financial statements and planning for the future may remain extremely challenging. Without the right accounting tools and knowledge, companies could miss opportunities to streamline accounting processes and get their financial houses in a stronger place to weather the storm. All of this makes it critical that accounting and financial reporting are handled in a way that sets the business up to recover and thrive.

Steve Barta is an Audit & Assurance partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP.

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The Many Benefits of Accounting Advisers to Corporate Finance: Through COVID-19 and Beyond - FEI Daily

Women are paying the highest financial price during the coronavirus crisis beware the pink recession – The Sun

THE two words that strike fear into the heart of any working mum are half term but now thats been replaced with one word lockdown.

And not just because they have been having to juggle work, childcare and home-schooling, but because women are paying the highest financial price during this crisis so much so we are about to hit a so-called pink recession.


Women were hit hardest by the cuts that followed the financial crisis of 2008, and it looks like history is about to repeat itself.

Of the lowest paid workers in this country, 69 per cent are women, according to the Womens Budget Group.

Meanwhile 74 per cent of part-time workers are female, and 54 per cent of those on zero-hours contracts.

Inevitably, these groups will be among the first to feel the effects of economic downturn.

The juggle for working women is becoming nigh-on impossible to manage

And thats before you add in the toll of all the extra unpaid work women are picking up during this crisis the effects of which should not be underestimated.

Before the pandemic, the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculated that children aged eight and older each week spent on average around 30 hours at school and another 22 hours on activities outside the home.

But with nurseries, schools, colleges, parks all having been shut and still remain closed for some age groups, plus cinemas, zoos, cafes all locked and no respite trip to their grandparents or play dates to fall back on kids now need looking after 24/7.

And the burden of this is falling firmly into their mums lap.

The juggle for working women is becoming nigh-on impossible to manage from working from home, looking after their children while home-schooling them, cleaning, cooking, shopping, working out, keeping peoples spirits up, clapping for carers and, of course baking banana bread...is it any wonder we are about to crack?

Well, it appears that way. More working mums have either decided to give up their paid work to be able to deal with the growing demands of their non-paid work or have been forced to.

Mothers who were in paid work before lockdown are 47 per cent more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their jobs or quit, says the IFS.

That means losing their financial independence, missing out on career progression and instead picking up the vacuum cleaner and looking after the kids.


Meanwhile, what is the man in their household doing? Working uninterrupted, of course.

New research suggests that in homes where there is both a working mother and father, the women are doing more chores and spending more time with their children while the man is able to concentrate solely on his work.

For every three hours of uninterrupted work dads managed during lockdown, women were able to complete just one, having been waylaid by the demands of their household and children.

While this infuriates me, it sadly does not surprise me.

We think we have come a long way but statistics like this make me question just how far have we come and more importantly, how far has this pandemic set equality back?

I accept this isnt the case in every household, but it is in most.

Its a fact that the pandemic has had a disproportionate economic impact on women.

Turn2us, a charity that tackles poverty, polled 2,014 working-age adults and found womens incomes are expected to fall by 309 a month.

If childcare becomes even less accessible and more expensive, this will have a drastic impact on employment levels among women

Thats a nosedive of 26 per cent, in comparison to an 18 per cent fall of 247 for men.

Sadly, an end to the pandemic will not bring an end to these problems.

As more women work in service industries hit hard by Covid-19 such as hospitality, retail and tourism, there wont be as many jobs for them to go back to.

Meanwhile, the childcare sector is in crisis, with many providers saying they have not been given enough government support to prevent job losses.


If childcare becomes even less accessible and more expensive, this will have a drastic impact on employment levels among women.

And what about the new norm of working from home?

Weve heard that companies such as Twitter are reviewing their need for large city centre offices, and that employees will get a choice to work from home.

No good news here for women either, as it seems that when working from home they are far more likely to get sucked into childcare and chores than men in the same situation.

So what can be done? There is some hope in the IFS report. It found that during lockdown dads have nearly doubled the time they spend on childcare.

On average, fathers now do some childcare during eight hours of the day, compared with four hours in 2014/15.

Hopefully, this will have a lasting effect, with men starting to share household chores and childcare more equally. Clearly, there is still a long way to go though.

Even before Covid-19 hit, women did 16 hours of household chores every week, while men did closer to six.


In a staggering 93 per cent of couples, women did the bulk of the domestic duties.

For my daughter, and one day, please God, my granddaughters, I really hope the pandemic has not entrenched traditional gender roles and that, as we come out of it we will all fight for greater equality.

This is a fight we all must have not just women as we should all want to live in a fair society.

Lets not forget, of all those brilliant carers and health workers we clapped for, four out of five of them are women.

bride & doomI married a bigamist who had three wives, 13 kids and was a sex offender


IRON WILLMy son, 8, wakes at 5am to body buildI'm mum-shamed but I love that he's ripped

ON A ROLLCleaning fanatics are using fabric softener in their loos to keep them fresh

BOWLED OVERHome Bargains fans hail their 3 sink bowl & its 29 cheaper than John Lewis

BUNK UPSingle mum who couldnt find a triple bunk bed built her own using Ikea bargains

TAKE A SWIPEIm 62 & blokes in their 20s use my Insta account like Tinder

It is women who have been on the frontline during this crisis, and women who should not be forgotten after it.

Change can start in your own home. There is no reason cooking, cleaning and childcare cannot be split equally.

If you agree to share every burden and every task, you will be stronger, happier and more equal. And who wouldnt want that?


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Women are paying the highest financial price during the coronavirus crisis beware the pink recession - The Sun

The Average American Worries They Will Never Be Financially Independent ( Video) – South Florida Reporter

Seven in 10 Americans worry they will never be financially independent, according to new research.

The study asked 2,000 Americans about their finances and how knowledgeable they feel on the subject.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they dont know enough about their own financial situation today.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf ofSoFi, the survey also found that 68% of respondents want to learn more about their finances, but dont know where to go.

More than eight in 10 respondents said they believe that high schools should be required to teach financial literacy.

Another 55% of those surveyed said theyre too intimidated to ask for professional financial advice.

So in order to learn more, 57% have tried to teach themselves about their finances.

The top thing respondents had to teach themselves was how to pay their taxes, closely followed by learning about how credit card interest works.

Perhaps this is all connected to how mom and dad handled their finances back in the day as 72% of respondents said they felt their parents didnt teach them enough about their finances.

Are the days of passing your financial skills to your children come and gone? The results showed the younger the respondent, the less likely their parents gave them the talk about their finances.

Seventy-six percent of millennials agreed with this sentiment that their parents didnt teach them enough about their finances compared to 70% of Gen X respondents and 59% of Baby Boomer respondents.

Three-quarters of millennial respondents also said that teaching their children financial literacy would be a top priority for them.

Another trend that varied by age, was respondents reactions to the 2008 financial crisis.

Eighty-two percent of millennials polled said the recession was a wake-up call for them to handle their finances better, compared to 77% of Gen X respondents and 58% of Baby Boomers surveyed.

Looking at their current financial situations, seven in 10 respondents worry theyll never be able to be financially stable.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said this worry was connected to the ever-increasing costs of college tuition with millennial respondents in the most agreement at 71%, compared to 66% of Gen X respondents and only 36% of Baby Boomer respondents.

SoFi is on a mission to help people achieve financial independence by getting their money right. The results of this survey really underscore the importance of that mission and of developing a right-sized financial plan across your saving, spending, borrowing, and investing objectives, said Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi.

With all these worries, its no surprise that 58% of those surveyed said they feel they dont have control over their financial affairs.

Six in 10 respondents also agreed that keeping track of their finances is stressful.

We know that money is stressful. Thats why we provide our members with many of the tools they need as well as access to complimentary financial planning services so that they know how to take an active role in planning their financial futures, added Noto.


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The Average American Worries They Will Never Be Financially Independent ( Video) - South Florida Reporter

Two Nigerians shortlisted as finalists in the Cartier Women’s Initiative 2020 – Ventures Africa

Funkola Odeleye and Temie Giwa-Tubosun have been shortlisted as two of three African entrepreneurs who could stand a chance to win the sum of $100,000 in grant at this years edition of the Cartier Womens Initiative.

The initiative, which was founded in 2006, has helped women over the years to reach their full potential by shining a light on their achievements while providing them with the necessary financial, social and human capital support in growing their businesses and leadership skills. It is open to women-run and women-owned businesses across the globe with the aim of ensuring a strong and sustainable social and environmental impact as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Owing to the social impact of their businesses within Nigeria, Funke Odeleye and Giwa-Tubosun were among the selected 21 finalists from a pool of 1,200 applications from 162 countries across 7 regions. A winner will be selected from each region and take home the sum of $100,000 in prize money, whereas the second and third runner-ups will receive the sum of $30,000.

Funkola Odeleye is the Co-founder and CEO at DIYlaw, a legal technology company committed to empowering Nigerian entrepreneurs through the provision of accessible and affordable legal services and free legal and business resources. She is also the Corporate-Commercial and Intellectual Property lead at The Longe Practice LP (TLP), an entrepreneur-focused law practice.

Funkola has a Masters in Finance and Financial Law from the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London in addition to her LLB from the Lagos State University and BL from the Nigerian Law School. Her legal experience prior to founding TLP and DIYlaw cuts across capital markets, investment advisory, compliance, and securities. In addition, she is an Obama Leader, having been chosen as a 2019 Obama Africa Leader and also an Innovating Justice Fellow of The Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law (HiiL).

With our goals aimed at reducing unemployment in Nigeria by 50 percent by 2030, DIYLaws services and partnerships at the end of 2019 had created more than 120,000 jobs in Nigeria. Every job increases an individuals financial independence, provides a chance for stability, and in some cases even offers the possibility of moving off the streets she said.

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, also shortlisted as one of the finalists, is the founder of LifeBank, a medical distribution company with the mission aimed at helping hospitals find critical supplies and deliver them in the right condition and on time within three cities in Nigeria.

Since its founding in 2016, LifeBank has consistently ensured the timely delivery of vital medical supplies and blood to hospitals in its service area within 55 minutes day or night, thereby relieving doctors of the logistical stress associated with locating blood and giving them ample time to focus on treating patients. The company has transported more than 20,000 units of blood and other medical products, served 450 hospitals, engaged 5,823 donors, and saved over 6,757 lives.

LifeBanks ambitious mission is to save a million lives across Africa in 10 years and to reach all of Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and South America to deliver critical supplies around the clock, eventually becoming a profitable public company.

Seven laureates out of 14 finalists from the 2020 edition of the Cartier womens initiative will be announced early June. The laureates and finalists will all benefit from financial advisory services, strategy coaching, media visibility, and international networking opportunities, as well as a place on an INSEAD executive education programme.

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Two Nigerians shortlisted as finalists in the Cartier Women's Initiative 2020 - Ventures Africa

Don’t drop the ball on this one Jacinda – Newsroom

JUNE 5, 2020 Updated 2 hours ago

Susan St John is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Auckland Business School and Director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre.

Dr Claire Dale is research fellow at the Retirement Policy and Research Centre in the Department of Economics at the University of Auckland Business School


Anomalies in the policy for superannuitants with overseas pensions are an indictment on the justice process in New Zealand, write Susan St John and Dr Claire Dale

Along with many others, the Retirement Policy and Research Centre has worked assiduously for more than a decade to alert the public, policy-makers and politicians to grave anomalies in the policy for superannuitants with overseas state pensions.

Of these multiple anomalies the most egregious is the spousal deduction. This policy reduces a persons superannuation when their partner has an overseas pension. A woman could have lived and worked all her life in New Zealand and entered into a second or third relationship later on only to find she gets less NZ Super, or even none at all, and so loses precious financial independence. Increasingly, men who marry women with long working histories from other countries are affected as well.

Fobbed off with promises for years that change was imminent, usually after yet another report, a great deal of bitterness and cynicism festered. Early in 2018, three affected superannuitants, at great personal cost, went to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. In an expensive week-long court hearing, lengthy and banal filibuster submissions flowed from the Ministry of Social Development to justify this indefensible policy. More than two years on, there is still no decision from the Tribunal nor any hint of one pending. What an indictment of the justice process in New Zealand.

But then there was a ray of hope. This time last year it seemed we could at last break open the champagne. There had been an announcement buried in the 2019 Budget that the unfair spousal deduction policy would be removed.From 1 July 2020, your NZ Super or Veterans Pension wont be affected if your partners getting an overseas pension."

It is beyond time for the Government of kindness to put the well-being of people first, and not delay the removal of this anachronistic and heartless, foolish, petty policy.

Change appeared to be coming, not because the spousal deduction was a human rights abuse (as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it when in Opposition in 2015), but because the system needed modernisation.

Since the Retirement Policy and Research Centre became involved back in 2008, many of those affected by the spousal deduction have since died, and many others in their 70s and 80s are worn out by their fight for justice. So it was unfathomable that once the government had agreed it was unjust,there would be no redress until July 2020, and furthermore there would be no backdating.

We are talking about a policy that at most affects 500 people with minuscule fiscal implications.There was an appropriation in the 2019 Budget of $2 million to fix this anomaly, so why not just do it? Was it too early to break out the champagne? Worryingly, the minister began to hint it would be only implemented in July if the legislation could be passed in time.

Then the bombshell arrived this week. Blaming Covid-19 work pressures at the MSD, the bill has been delayed until November, i.e. until after the election. Worse, even if it passes, there will be no backdating to July let alone prior to that. What a contrast to Covid policies that can be implemented almost overnight.

The Government cant blame Winston Peters for this one. While New Zealand First has not been a strong voice on this issue over the years, he was first in the media with the news and has pre-emptively exonerated himself.

New Zealand First is disappointed that the removal of the spousal deductions has had to be delayed by the Ministry of Social Development, due to Covid-19 workload pressures. New Zealand First has always stood for fairness when it comes to superannuation so we are very committed to removing what we consider an unfair deduction from New Zealanders who happen to have partners with an overseas pension.

It is beyond time for the Government of kindness to put the well-being of people first, and not delay the removal of this anachronistic and heartless, foolish, petty policy. Generous compensation must also be a priority.

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Don't drop the ball on this one Jacinda - Newsroom

The Coronavirus Crisis Has Tested the Retire-Early Movement. But Its Followers Are Unbowed, and Its Winning New Fans. – Barron’s

When Ali and Alison Walker sold their Seattle home, said goodbye to their jobs, and set off on an around-the-world journey in 2018, the markets were still on the upswing and their early retirement was unfolding with hardly a hitch.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic and an abrupt turn in markets that slammed the Walkers investments and confined them to an Airbnb in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, amid global travel restrictions.

Yet the Walkers, like many proponents of the financial independence, retire early movement, seem largely unfazed. FIRE adherents pursue their goals by saving aggressively, and in the past 11 years, many have taken advantage of a historic bull market to build solid nest eggs.

We planned for some type of a black-swan event, says the 46-year-old Ali, who worked in marketing and business development. We couldnt have planned for the coronavirus, but we assumed there would be a tough bear market or a prolonged down market for one reason or another.

Still, the coronavirus crisis is a big test for the FIRE philosophy, with some observers wondering if the crisis will knock devotees off trackor even extinguish the FIRE flame and push those who have achieved their goals back into an office cubicle.

Yet far from dousing interest in FIRE, so far it seems as if the crisis may lead more people to investigate the philosophy. Just as people flocked to the movement in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, those who feel burned by the current crisis may find themselves turning to FIRE strategies in a bid to be more self-sufficient.

What part of biggest unemployment spike in history makes you want to be more reliant on your job? says Tanja Hester, author of the book Work Optional and the FIRE blog Our Next Life. Its a huge reminder that workers are expendable, and there isnt a great safety net out there for us.

Many FIRE adherents start out in good financial shape. They are often financially disciplined millennials or Gen-Xers with well-paid jobs, banking big chunks of their salary in hopes of making an early exit from the workforce. Given their relatively long time horizons, they often take on a lot of investment risk.

Yet even though many pursuing a FIRE strategy invest aggressively, they employ some strategies that may leave them particularly well suited to weather the economic storm. They often emphasize large emergency funds, low costs of living, and well-diversified investments and income streams.

Consider the Walkers: The couple set aside five years of cash to cover their expenses in the case of a sustained downturn, and decided on a conservative annual withdrawal rate of 3% of their savings. They also gave themselves plenty of wiggle room in their budget to pare back expenses if needed.

One of the great things about the FIRE movement is that it talks a lot about the different scenarios you should prepare for before deciding to retire, says the 56-year-old Alison, who had worked retouching images for catalogs and corporate clients.

Marcus Miller, a financial planner who specializes in working with FIRE clients at the Indianapolis offices of Deerfield Financial Advisors, says the philosophy attracts disciplined investors of a cautious mindset. If you take a look at the people who comprise the FIRE movement, its people who often live below their means and have built this war chest to live off of. They may be better equipped to weather a storm like this than the majority of Americans.

Even among the best-prepared, some who are following the FIRE path are likely to face challenges in the current environment. This may be especially true of people who are close to, or just starting, their early retirement. The sharp downturn in the financial markets ratchets up the risk that drawing down investments nowrather than waiting for markets to rebound before tapping investmentscan throw off assumptions about long-term returns and savings growth.

This sequence-of-return risk can have a big impact on what youre able to spend later in your retirement, says Matt Ryan, a financial planner at San Diegobased Creative Capital Management Investments. Two months ago, the people who are close to financial independence and retiring may have been pretty close to their goals, he says. But now they may have to adjust their timing.

Whats more, Ryan says, is that this risk comes as even the most risk-tolerant FIRE investors had become inured to down markets. Theres a recency bias, especially among younger investors who saw the market continuously going up over the last 10 years thats led to an overallocation to stocks.

Generally speaking, he says, investors should have an emergency fund and a portion of their portfolios in conservative investments. Those who dont have adequate savings outside of equities may find themselves in a predicamentneeding income but loath to sell while stocks are down.

For those who find themselves short on cash, the advisor suggests paring back expenses or seeking income from a side gig, two familiar principles of the FIRE movement. People who previously had a side gig may qualify for unemployment under the Cares Act, which extended benefits to freelancers.

I think its definitely a lot harder to pursue financial independence and FIRE in the traditional sense at this exact moment given that most of the economy has just been paused, says Grant Sabatier, a personal-finance blogger and author of Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need.

Sabatier suggests that those who cant pursue the strategy now can still take the time to understand their values and plan how they want to save, spend and invest in the future. Use this moment while were all stuck inside to figure out your relationship with money and how to be more intentional about it when this is all over.

The current environment may lure a new demographic into the world of FIRE. While millennials felt the sting of the 2008 financial crisismany left college loaded with debt during a lousy job marketyounger generations may have known only a bull market. A lot of younger people havent experienced anything like this, Ryan says. Its going to be a wake-up call for those who arent putting enough away in savings or dont have an adequate emergency fund.

Colin Loretz was drawn to the FIRE movement right before the pandemic struck. The 32-year-old freelance software engineer would frequently find himself chasing late invoices from clientsdelays that were exacerbated by his lack of savings to carry him between paychecks. Before committing to financial independence, he used credit cards as a stand-in for an emergency fund, leaving him with considerable personal debt.

While he hasnt begun aggressively investing, he is working to pay off his debt and weighing whether to use his stimulus check to erase that debt or bolster his emergency fund. Loretz, who lives in Reno, Nev., says he feels the crisis has made him more committed to the FIRE principles. I wanted to get out of living invoice to invoice as a freelancer and on to a different path, Loretz says. I dont want to be caught in a situation like this again.

Write to us at retirement@barrons.com

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The Coronavirus Crisis Has Tested the Retire-Early Movement. But Its Followers Are Unbowed, and Its Winning New Fans. - Barron's

Lohit Group Harnesses Blockchain and Other Advanced Technologies to Provide Financial Independence – Yahoo Finance

Lohit Group introduces a number of technology-backed platforms including a robust cryptocurrency exchange, to offer advanced financial solutions

DELHI, INDIA / ACCESSWIRE / May 5, 2020 / The world economy is an interconnected grid, where the economic circumstances in one country can have a massive impact on other geographies. This concept is extremely relevant in the present scenario, as the global financial dynamics have taken a turn in the wake of the pandemic. And, it is fair to say that this economic turnaround might well be a cause of concern for years to come. We have hit a roadblock, where millions are searching for jobs to sustain themselves, while employers are looking to hire the right employees for their businesses. Unfortunately, there is a gap that is preventing optimal usage of available resources, and in turn affecting the economy, which is already in a sensitive state. Lohit Group has come up with a technology-based solution to address the problem.

About Lohit Group

Originally founded in 1998, Lohit Group is a technology company that deals in financial services and fund management. Over the years, it has worked with a number of businesses at all scales and helped them succeed by providing various financial services and trading tools. More recently, it has forayed into advanced technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, etc. By harnessing these technologies, Lohit Group aims to create applications, tools, and platforms using which businesses and individuals will be able to weather out the effects of any economic instability.

Major Services

WorkbookingWorkbooking is a multi-faceted and integrated online platform that is aimed to benefit both job-seekers as well as employers. It creates a seamless bridge between businesses and potential employees, thus helping make optimal usage of human resources. The platform is equipped with automatic selection features based on preferred geographic location, timetable, job nature, and salary. While this allows job-seekers to set their preference, it also enables employers to select the right fit for their businesses. All in all, Workbooking is a win-win for both entities, which in turn benefits the entire employment scenario.

In order to keep up the recent economic digitalization, Lohit Group also offers blockchain and cryptocurrency-based products and solutions. The crypto industry is definitely growing in India, especially with a number of foreign investments off late. To leverage that potential, Lohit Group provides the following services - Crypto Wallet, Crypto Exchange, Binary Options.

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Lohit Group Harnesses Blockchain and Other Advanced Technologies to Provide Financial Independence - Yahoo Finance

Meghan Markle Is Poised to Become the Most Prominent Influencer in the World – TownandCountrymag.com

Chris JacksonGetty Images

For designers and retailers, Meghan Markle's influence cannot be overstated. Almost everything she wears sells outeven faster if it's at a relatively affordable price pointand her royal stamp of approval can boost a brand's sales in a way few other people can.

Bianca Gates, the co-founder of the shoe brand Birdies, which Meghan has worn publicly on multiple occasions, says the so-called "Markle Sparkle," is the kind of marketing "you cannot buy."

Or, at least you couldn't buy it before.

But now that Harry and Meghan have stepped away from their senior roles in the royal family, Meghan's endorsement, at least in theory, might be for sale.

Chris JacksonGetty Images

The Sussexes sought financial independence when they left their positions as working royals, giving up other, perhaps more personal, aspects of their proposed planPrince Harry's honorary military appointments come to mindin order to gain it. And Harry and Meghan made it clear that they intended to seek out private income as well, though they haven't explicitly spelled out what exactly that means. (The onset of the coronavirus crisis likely shifted any plans they had to launch their charity, Archewell, or kick off other, more lucrative initiatives.)

It seems unlikely that Meghan would become a full-fledged company spokesperson, endorsing products. And even if the Sussexes relaunch their social media presence, I don't think she'll be doing sponsored posts anytime soon. That kind of overt promotion would be an extreme shift in her own personal brand. But it does seem possible that Meghan might begin to receive free clothes and products, from brands hoping she'll be seen sporting their wares.

PoolGetty Images

Gifting products to celebrities and other high-profile influencers is a common modern marketing practice. Brands will send high-profile influencers items for free in the hopes that they'll showcase them publicly.

The Duchess is certainly familiar with how things in this space work, given her pre-royal career as an actress with her own lifestyle blog. But when Meghan was serving as a representative of the Queen, and receiving public funding, there were numerous rules and protocols she had to abide byone of which governed the type of gifts she was able to receive.

The introduction of the royal family's gift policy, which appears to have been most recently updated in 2003, reads as follow:

The wording of this passage isn't entire clearto whom, exactly, does this apply? Only working royals or a broader swatch of the family? But taking into account the lengths Harry and Meghan have gone to separate themselves financially from the institution of the monarchy, Meghan could indeed find herself untethered from these restrictions. (She would, though, still find herself subject to the necessary social media advertising and gifting rules, if she wanted to actively promote a gift.)

Well never see her Instagramming flat tummy tea.

These gray areas mean that the Sussexes will probably proceed with extreme caution. "Obviously anybody would give them anything, but I think they're going to be really careful," says Elizabeth Holmes, the fashion journalist behind the buzzy "So Many Thoughts" Instagram series about royal style. Holmes notes that she didn't know for certain if Meghan would be able to receive clothes for free.

"I think that Meghan's power as a dresser will continue. There are so few peopleeven among celebritiesthat have the kind of economic power to move merchandise the way that royal women do, so I hope and I think shell choose carefully."

Christine Ross, the creative director of Effervescence Media Group, a company that runs the popular royal fashion blog Meghan's Mirror, agrees. She thinks Meghan might begin to receive gifts from companies, but that she'll choose what to accept "responsibly."

"If an independent woman-owned brand reaches out to her and says 'Would you like to learn more about our brand, well send you a necklace,' I could see that possibly happening," Ross says.

"But Meghan knows how influential her fashion choices are and how much of an economic phenomenon the Meghan effect is. Well never see her Instagramming flat tummy tea."

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Meghan Markle Is Poised to Become the Most Prominent Influencer in the World - TownandCountrymag.com

Money and relationships: Spouse’s addiction draining your wealth? Deal with it this way – Economic Times

Managing money and growing wealth is a difficult task even in the normal course. Add to it external and internal threats, the former including macroeconomic factors or exceptional ones like the current Covid crisis. The internal threats can include personality or behavioural issues, such as addictions or bad habits. Excessive shopping, Internet addiction, gambling, drinking or drug abuse can damage both your physical and financial health, often irrevocably.

1. What will be the impact?Addictions invariably help people escape troubling reality or are sought by those suffering from depression and anxiety. These start by eating into their time, taking them away from work, and often resulting in job loss. These are also expensive, demanding a constant supply of money. So the funds for essentials like food, utilities, loan EMIs, rent and investments are diverted towards addictions, and in case of job loss, the existing savings are depleted and debts pile up. Addictions like drinking, smoking or drug abuse also have a huge health and insurance cost, leading to increased medical expenses as well as a rise in health and life insurance premiums.

2. Compulsive shoppingIf your spouses obsession started as a retail therapy to overcome bad moods, help them look for alternatives to be happy. Encourage interaction with family and friends, following hobbies and passions, and physical activities like sports, exercise or even cleaning. To provide them a reality check for finances, work with a monthly budget by listing the income and expenses, separate the essential spending from discretionary, and list your familys goals and the amount needed to save every month to be able to reach these. This will help them focus on how much they can actually afford to shop. To help curb spending proactively, push them to cut up the credit cards, shop only with a list and only for the things they need. If nothing helps, seek a behavioural therapist and a financial counsellor.

3. Internet, gaming obsessionHere, it is important to know the reason: is it a way to avoid work and responsibility, or a harmless timepass that blew up into an addiction? If it is the latter and is in the initial stages, it is best to make a clean break by cutting off the Internet connection. In case of the former, encourage the spouse to talk about the problems, reduce their workload, and indulge in entertainment or fun activities. If, however, it has developed into a full-blown addiction, it is best to seek the help of a behavioural therapist or a psychologist.

4. Drinking, smoking, drugs and gamblingThese are all serious addictions that are typically hard to get rid of and often require professional help. These also have extreme financial consequences. If your spouse is in the grip of one, it is best to seek medical help and therapy. On your part, you will first have to seek financial independence by getting a job. Next, ensure that the partner does not have access to your funds through your bank account or via Net banking. As a next step, seek the help of a financial counsellor, who can ground you in the basics of saving and investing for your and your childrens goals. These self-help measures will ensure that till the time your spouse gets back on track, or even if he doesnt and you need to separate, you will be well-versed in financial planning and will be able to take care of yourself and your financial goals.

If you have a wealth whine, write to us...All of us have been in a financial dilemma when it comes to relationships. How do you say no to a friend who wants you to invest in his new business venture? Should you take a loan from your married brother? Are you concerned about your wifes impulse buying? If you have any such concerns that are hard to resolve, write in to us at etwealth@timesgroup.com with Wealth Whines as the subject.

Disclaimer: The advice in this column is not from a licensed healthcare professional and should not be construed as psychological counselling, therapy or medical advice. ET Wealth and the writer will not be responsible for the outcome of the suggestions made in the column.

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Money and relationships: Spouse's addiction draining your wealth? Deal with it this way - Economic Times

There can be no press freedom with no financial independence – Daily Monitor

By Dr William Tayeebwa

The coronavirus pandemic, known as Covid-19, continues to wreak havoc that is best captured in numbers of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries. There is, however, a different data set that should not escape our notice especially on World Press Freedom Day. The pandemic has constricted revenue streams for media organisations, forcing some print titles to suspend operations (Ennyanda) and several others to contemplate cost-cutting measures (such as laying off and furloughing journalists).

Both outcomes are deeply disturbing; if anything, because a robust press takes up a central place before, during and after a pandemic. It is not a stretch to conclude that access to verified and accurate information can mean a matter of life and death. A robust press is an indispensable source of information. It provides a trusted sieve that nips the infodemic of misinformation and disinformation in the bud.

The act of newsgathering and investigation, the researching of stories which are layered with different complexities, is a costly endeavour. Doubly so with restrictive measures, such as public and private transportation that have come in place to stave off the inescapable Covid-19.

If there was any doubt that there cannot be press freedom without financial independence, then its taken covering an unprecedented public health crisis to crystallise this time-honoured truth. The press cannot hold those in power to account if its finances are not on a sound footing. The domino effect in such a scenario is one of loss perpetuating loss.

Either the media organisation will not have the financial capacity to advance investigative journalism or the transition from watchdog to lapdog will subsume its content with puff pieces and officialdom. Neither is a good place for the press to be. It essentially leaves the press in shackles at the whims of those with power.

As it were, the mass media in Uganda are heavily reliant on advertising revenue. This hardly makes them independent because, as an old dictum reminds us, he who pays the piper calls the tune. And its not just corporate interests at play here. The manner in which the National Association of Broadcasters reportedly sought to dip its fingers in governments cookie jar ostensibly for relaying official Covid-19 messages was telling in more ways than one.

The projection of Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) as a vulnerable poor was also equally telling. It is not reassuring if journalists are propped by those they are supposed to hold accountable.

Clearly, the financial model on which independent media in Uganda operate leaves them susceptible to being lapdogs. This squarely leaves press freedom in retreat. This should worry us all because a free, healthy press remains a fundamental test of democracy and open government.

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, the need to front a financial model that wont impel the press to make a sacrifice at the altar of survival is greater now more than ever. Its not just humanity that has been brought very low by a very humble assailant in Covid-19. The presss existential threat has also surged to the fore.

It is never comfortable if you are trapped between a rock and hard place. Yet that is exactly where the Ugandan press finds itself. Consumers are evidently reluctant to pay for access to content. It is not just the sales model of revenue generation that is perilous; the advertising model is also in decline. A mixed revenue model has also proven to be hardly helpful. So where does the press go from here?

Options like crowdfunding should be explored; as should grant income and philanthropy. Al Jazeera satellite TV network for instance traces its roots back to grant funding. It started with a $150 million grant from the Emir of Qatar in 1996 and has since proceeded to diversify its income streams.

However, public funding is also a welcome option to all media established media outlets in form of tax exemptions and other forms of assistance.Dr. William Tayeebwa is the Head, Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University

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There can be no press freedom with no financial independence - Daily Monitor

Financially Speaking: Observations that helped navigate portfolios throughout this pandemic – Troy Record

We like to think that we have had some profound, timeless thoughts that have helped the readers as well as our clients survive the volatility that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will let you be the judge of that as what follows are some that we have added to our journal over the past couple of months along with quotes from others that we believe are quite perceptive. However, we would first like to start with the following statistics regarding the U.S. stock market as represented by the S&P 500.

Since 1928 the rolling ten-year return of the S&P 500 has been higher approximately 95% of the time and lower just 5%. The more an investor meaningfully alters their asset allocation model in response to market downturns, the percent chances of positive returns over the aforementioned ten year period decreases.

Since 1950 the S&P 500 declines an average of 5% about three times per year; 10% or more approximately once per year; 15% or more about once every four years and 20% or more about once every six years. It is not a question of if another bear market will occur it is question of when.

Every market bear or bull has a catalyst. Quite often those catalysts are unprecedented which is why investors fall into the trap of thinking that it is different this time and that the financial markets will not recover. To date, that stance has always been incorrect. Today, what does your investment strategy say about what you believe?

A skilled T. Rowe Price portfolio manager once wondered aloud, How do you deal with the stress of markets? If you seek comfort, you are in trouble. You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. (David Eiswert, Portfolio Manager, T. Rowe Price Global Stock Fund)

We have complete confidence that the U.S. Financial Markets have been the most direct route for most investors to obtain financial independence and have no reason to believe that this time is any different.

Historically, the rallies such as the one we are experiencing off the March 23rd lows fade which result in an ultimate retest of those lows. Although likely, this time may be different as the catalyst behind the bear market was different. It was not looming economic weakness brought about by a foreseeable economic event but rather by an abrupt shock to the economy. Investors have to plan for either outcome a retest of the lows or a market that approaches new highs.

It was the rapidity of the decline in the stock market as well as the depth that was most unnerving to investors and what resulted in a pervasive sense of doom.

Eventually there will be a new normal. Over the short- to intermediate-term investors should prepare to look for opportunities in a world where there is less brick and mortar retail and more online; less recreational and business travel (although business will most likely rebound to a certain extent first); less but more costly air travel; more videoconferencing; less need for office space as more people work remotely; when they resume fewer attendees at sporting events, concerts and other public events and more online gaming. Spacing, Spacing, Spacing.

Those that panicked may very well have fatally compromised their long-term financial well-being.

If you have some of your own, please feel free to email us at investment@faganassociates.com Enjoy your weekend. Stay safe. Be well.

Please note that all data is for general information purposes only and not meant as specific recommendations. The opinions of the authors are not a recommendation to buy or sell the stock, bond market or any security contained therein. Securities contain risks and fluctuations in principal will occur. Please research any investment thoroughly prior to committing money or consult with your financial advisor. Please note that Fagan Associates, Inc. or related persons buy or sell for itself securities that it also recommends to clients. Consult with your financial advisor prior to making any changes to your portfolio. To contact Fagan Associates, Please call (518) 279-1044.

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Financially Speaking: Observations that helped navigate portfolios throughout this pandemic - Troy Record

Meghan & Harry Hire Beckhams Hollywood Aide But Theyre Beyond Help – CCN.com

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are busy carving out a new life for themselves in the City of Stars. At least, theyre living on someone elses dime in someone elses mansion in LA, anyway. Now, the Duke and Duchess have reportedly managed to bag the help of Rebecca Mostow.

Mostow might look like your average woman, but shes a 70-year-old celebrity whizz. Rebecca has already proved shes a dab hand at helping a British couple adjust to life in Los Angeles. Victoria and David Beckham hired her to get them used to the American life when they skipped England in 2007.

For all intents and purposes, Rebecca has the kind of resume youd want from an assistant. Shes used to being in the inner sanctum of celebrities, but is hiring her just another desperate attempt to look the part?

Its been a few months now since Meghan and Harry announced their desire to leave Britain behind. After bouncing around Canada, theyve landed in LA. But, where is this ever-elusive financial independence they talk of?

Despite numerous reports of the Sussexes eyeing up properties to buy, theyre shacked up in Tyler Perrys mansion. Are they paying rent? Unlikely, as the arrangement was set up by their mutual friend, Oprah. Plus, Perry has expressed his sympathy for how Meghan has been treated since she married into The Firm. He even flew them in on his $150 million private jet.

Meghan and Harry have a combined net worth of around $30 million. This lifestyle of living in a home that usually costs $200,000 a month to rent isnt going to be sustainable. Charity is all well and good, but it wont be long before patience wears thin. Lets face it, they cant afford the lifestyle they want to lead right now. So, why have they hired an assistant like Mostow?

Its all smoke and mirrors. Its part of the great ploy, the great facade. Everything is crumbling on the inside. But, Meghan seems to think that if you put on a pair of Louboutins and hire a well-known assistant, then the deception will turn into a reality.

Its clear that both Harry and Meghan have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Every single move they make at the moment is an attempt to be something that theyre not. Harry, for his part, looks like a lost little boy navigating a world he has no idea how to handle.

Even Meghan, the cold, calculating seductress, is grasping at straws to find a way to keep this fantasy alive. Is Rebecca Mostow the key to gaining the trust of Hollywoods elite? Or, will she just end up on the long list of people used and abused by a Z-list actress that married a prince?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

This article was edited by Samburaj Das.

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Meghan & Harry Hire Beckhams Hollywood Aide But Theyre Beyond Help - CCN.com

Dear Mom, I Wish You Didnt Have To Give Up Your Job For Motherhood – SheThePeople

Dear Mom,

I wish you did not have to let go of that job because of motherhood. I remember how while I was growing up you kept reiterating that I can do anything I want to once I get a job. Little did I know what financial independence for women meant at that time or how earning money can make you feel liberated. How when you are economically independent the world looks at you differently. How earning money gives you a say in things you do.

I remember how angry you got about some joke my friends made regarding me getting married. We were all teenagers then, and all my life I had never seen you overreacting like that. You shouted, All of you should get a job first. Now, after becoming a mother myself and after having quit my job because of maternity I realize what you would have gone through that day when you had to return that appointment letter just because you were pregnant. Just because you were new to the city and commute would have been difficult, and what if something happens to the baby. You could have gone to places is what I can think.

I know you have brooded over that decision. I know how cherished that job offer was for you. It wouldnt have been easy for you to crack that job either. You didnt just move cities but moved cultures when you got married. I know how much you struggled with speaking Hindi, still do. I know you still have a copy of that letter saved. To carry the weight of unfulfilled dreams on your shoulder without being bitter is not easy.

Also Read:Dear Mom: Thank You For Not Leaving Your Job Under Family Pressure

Thank you for not letting me lose focus when it would have been very easy to do so. In writing this, I redeem myself a bit, by acknowledging your tremendous sacrifice, in giving me life.

Photo by Praveesh Palakeel on Unsplash


Dear Mom, I Wish You Didnt Have To Give Up Your Job For Motherhood - SheThePeople