Friends, welcome to the end of 2020. We made it! Deep breaths all around.
Our final Top Reads is meant specifically for those of us who are burnt out and in desperate need of a rest. While there are some great articles around retirement, investing, and financial management, the ones I don’t want you to miss are all from coaches who specialize in transformation. I don’t know about you, but even a little transformation here and there would be very welcome.
I recommend you begin with “Your Surge Capacity is Depleted – It’s Why You Feel Awful” from Tara Haelle for a reminder of all the reasons you’re probably not okay right now. Follow it up with “Shot, But Too Stubborn to Fall Down” from Dr. Moira Somers for permission to rest, dammit.
When you’re good and rested, read “Envisioning a Future When Anything Could Happen”, by Marcia Reyolds, and then get to work on appreciating everything you (yes, YOU) did to get yourself to today so you can start getting yourself to a tomorrow you’re happy about by reading “The Truth About Results: It’s Largely in What You Can’t See” by Jacquette Timmons.
If you read nothing else, read those, and in that order.
Those of you with energy to spare and time to spend it on reading can get into Meg Bartelt’s post about making financial decisions when the future is (always) unknowable, and another post from Jacquette Timmons about the fundamental difference between giving financial advice and asking good questions (Yes, she’s on almost every list and yes, I love her). You can also take an intimate look at how “Covid long-haulers” are seeing their symptoms written off as subjective, and just how maddening and isolating that is.
For the retirement-minded, there are a pair of articles from the team at Your Retirement Researcher, including the following:
- This one is about how the concept of a universal “retirement number” is meaningless.
- Another one asking the tough questions about cognitive decline and how it will affect your ability to follow a complex retirement plan.
- Ben Carlson proposes that the 4% rule for retirement withdrawals is now the 5% rule.
- There’s also a tough-to-read article by our friend Jason Heath, answering a reader question about how seeking Medical Assistance in Dying might affect a spouse’s survivor income.
Rounding out the list are articles from Dan Mikulskis and Robin Powell about investing at all-time highs (it happens more often than you probably realize), what your job as an investor actually is (hint: it’s not outperforming), and – for any parents with the bandwidth to think about…anything, really – a video from Hadriana Leo about why you pay an allowance to your kids and how to ensure the delivery is consistent with the reason you’re doing it in the first place.
From Tara Haelle
“I might have intellectually accepted back in March that the next two years (or more?) are going to be nothing like normal, and not even predictable in how they won’t be normal. But cognitively recognizing and accepting that fact and emotionally incorporating that reality into everyday life isn’t the same.”
Read more here.
From Dr. Moira Somers
“So here’s my best advice to you: Fall down, dammit. Fall down, and stay there for a while. Do it voluntarily, preemptively, proactively, before your mind and/or your body remove all choice from you. Step away from the desk; put down the tools; turn off the phone and computer.”
Read more here.
From Marcia Reynolds
“Visions are still vital. I also believe they need to be regularly assessed based on shifts in both daily life and personal desires. Innovation is opening doors while world events are shutting some. This doesn’t mean opportunities are decreasing. As the adage says, ‘One door closes, another one opens.’ Even a crisis can both narrow and expand possibilities. You don’t want to give up on the dream you’ve worked hard to achieve but how you live out your dream might be expanding or changing over time.”
Read more here.
From Jacquette Timmons
“When you celebrate your wins, you know you’re not just celebrating the result. You’re also showing appreciation for what is invisible to others, but that you know was critical to your success.”
Read more here.
You can read this month’s entire list below, and browse through past lists here.
“Embrace the unknowability of it all. Realize that personal finance—whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a professional or reading books—is both science and art. That art part is where the “reasonable but arbitrary” comes in. You have to get comfortable with the fact that you will not, can not, know the answers. No one can. And don’t believe anyone who says they do.”
Here Are the Money Questions I Wished People Asked | Jacquette Timmons
“Questions like these herein can help you deepen your relationship with money from all sides. It can help you understand the relationship you’ve had with it; the one you currently have with it; and what you can do to shape your future relationship with it. All questions serve a purpose. So technically no question is “bad.” It’s just that some are “better” than others. These are the ones that invite you to go deep and learn more about yourself – and those around you.”
I’m hesitant to identify myself as a Covid-19 long-hauler | Pooja Yerramilli
“We have not discussed how we will approach their prolonged debilitation; the financial and equity implications of their inability to work; and the psychological sequelae of feeling sick and cast aside. If we continue to reject that their symptoms warrant investigation and treatment simply because they are not understood, these people will inevitably be alienated from the medical establishment and forced, like other “NOS” patients, to seek compassion and care only from each other.”
Advice for investing at all-time highs | Dan Mikulskis
“Competing narratives abound in markets all the time, but never more so than at a new high. Smart-sounding people have, and always will make headlines with compelling sounding arguments for bubbles, euphoria and over-valuation (a secret: fear sells). The most valuable advice you might ever read is to ignore them.”
Not Your Job | Robin Powell
“Your real benchmark isn’t beating the stock market. Instead, it’s how you’re performing relative to the goals that you’ve set. This approach may not sound as heroic and sexy as the image of the individual investor bravely second-guessing the market. But it will almost certainly yield superior long-term results.”
“You also have to consider no one actually lives their life in a spreadsheet. Something like the 4% rule is a rough guide that assumes a fairly linear path of spending. Every financial plan should be open-ended because the whole point of the planning process is making corrections as reality meets your built-in expectations.”
“There’s no right answer here. And that’s the point. Everyone’s different. And that means everyone’s retirement plans should be different. Anyone talking about retirement numbers is missing the point, and probably trying to make it easier for their sales folks to sell you something.”
“I am 84 and in poor health, suffering from two cancers. I currently receive a public service pension from the federal government and my Canada Pension Plan benefits. If I should decide to have assisted suicide, would that affect the pensions my wife would receive?”
“Declining abilities to do financial calculations and other types of cognitive impairment make it increasingly difficult to manage a complex investment and withdrawal strategy as you age.”
“Make sure you’re very clear about why you’re issuing the allowance…If we’re to teach our children about money, they need to have it to spend. Are you issuing an allowance to teach money lessons? Or as a reward for work done?”