Radical Personal Finance: Financial Independence, Early Retirement, Investing, Insurance, Financial Planning
144-Friday Q&A: Can I Retire With $1.4M, What Do I Do With Too Much Cash, and Should I do a Roth 401(k) or Traditional 401(k)?

Today, I bring to you three very fun but straightforward questions. Here they are:

Question #1: @01:56

Dear Joshua, 

My wife and I are well read in the areas of index fund investing, frugal living, early retirement, and financial independence (including your podcasts).  We have been on the path to early retirement for many years and we think we are there.  We both have high stress jobs and want to quit to raise a child and do whatever interests us whether it brings additional income or not.  We want to have a significant financial cushion, but also don’t want to be so conservative that we work years longer than necessary.  We are worriers and are very conservative in our estimates.

Although we are fairly confident in our calculations for early retirement timing, we hired a fee only financial planner for an outside opinion, and the experience was positive, but we believe the timing recommended was extremely conservative (4 years from now without a child; 5-6 years from now with a child).  We have a very good handle on our spending as we have been tracking it closely for several years.

The financial planner did not seem to understand our frugal lifestyle and rather than reducing our current spending by the “cost of working” that we clearly communicated, he added $15,000 per year to our current spending, which significantly changes the projections for retirement.  The explanation given was to account for “unexpected expenses”, but that amounts to >$20,000 per year in excess of our retirement spending estimate below.  We would be very grateful for your opinion of our plan to retire NOW, given the following data, which we have abbreviated to the most important points.

Ages: Him-45, Her-37

Debts: None (own a house and 2 cars free and clear)

Assets ($1,300,646)
$714,200 – His/Her TSP (Federal 401k)
$347,554 – Taxable Account (Vanguard Index Funds)
$216,165 – Cash/I-Bonds
$22,727 – His/Her Roth IRA
$31,000 – His Pension (starting at age 60)
$6,000 – Her Pension (starting at age 62)
(Minimum of $100,000 net after moving and downsizing our house – not included in assets total above) 

Asset Allocation:
40% Total US Stock Market (Vanguard/TSP Index Funds)
12% Total International Stock Market (Vanguard/TSP Index Funds)
33% Bonds (TSP G Fund)
15% Cash (CDs)

Spending:

Current Spending: $45,000
Retirement spending estimate $37,000
*This is after removing the easily calculated “costs of working” ($10,000 in property tax!; $3,000 in gas!) and adding estimated cost of health insurance ($5000?)
Note: We will be moving from a very high cost area (suburban Chicago) to a very low cost area (rural Florida)

Question #2 @26:20

Joshua,

Came across your podcast and dig the advice/honesty.

I've read numerous articles encouraging the use of fee-based financial advisors but haven't had a lot of luck finding the right person.. discouragement set in after numerous canned responses/what seemed like aggressive sales tactics.

I made somewhat of a half ass attempt in my early 20s with regularly maxing out a roth/always contributing enough to various company 401k to get the contribution match.

I've not paid a lot of attention and recently realized I'm holding roughly 50% of my total assets in a standard savings account yielding only 1%.

Without pulling the actual figures that'd be ~90k in retirement accounts Roth/Traditional rollover and ~90k in straight up cash... terrible I know.

My question is how do i fix/prevent it? I currently have one investment property with a mortgage that's less than what it's leasing for.

I see a couple fix it options:

Buy another house 

Pay down existing mortgage

Invest outside of a retirement account

I believe adjusting my 401k contribution may be a start to preventing it but what about after I max it out?

I don't mind paying for advice but what I really want is someone that's hands on/up to date.. helping me get the most out of my money.

Question #3: @46:37

Joshua

My name is Joe and I’m 24 years old.  I’ve been listening to your show for a while now and really enjoy it, keep up the good work.

My question has to do with whether or not a Roth 401k is the right move for me.  Currently my gross income is $58,616.  This year, I’ve contributed 6% of my AGI into a regular 401k and my employer matches .80 cents on the dollar up to the first 5% of my pay. ($3,517+$2,344 = $5,861)  I also contribute to my Roth IRA and will max it out at $5,500.

My employer just recently began offering a Roth 401k option and my question is whether or not it is the best move for me to make to begin contributing to the Roth vs the regular 401k?  I understand the tax benefits on the front end at my young age and do believe taxes will rise in the future and also that I will hopefully be in a higher tax bracket in retirement than I am now.  In my mind, the advantage of the Roth is the higher contribution limit (18k vs 5,500) but the advantage of the Roth IRA is I have it at Schwab and have lower fees and more investment options than inside my 401k.  I would like to keep my net take home pay the same and am having trouble running the math to figure out which would be the better option.  In addition, I have the option to do a Roth 401k conversion on the $12k that’s in my Regular 401k.  Your advice would be much appreciated.  

About me:

Assets: $27k in Roth IRA, $12K in 401k, $3k in taxable investment acct, $6K in savings acct, $2k in checking acct

Debts: $41,200 Federal Parent PLUS @ 7.65% and $16,500 @ 5.25%. I currently am on the standard repayment plan (10 yrs) and make an extra $100 payment each month on top of that. No credit card debt or any other type of loan, own a 2005 Camry that is paid off.

***

Enjoy the show!

Joshua

Direct download: RPF0144-Friday_QandA.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 6:26pm MST

143-Intro to Self-Directed IRAs: How to Invest In Real Estate, Tax Liens, Physical Gold and Silver, Structured Settlements, Horses, Livestock, Farmland, Timberland, and More In Your IRA

I've been looking for an expert on self-directed IRAs to bring on the show and I was thrilled to meet Kirk Chisholm at FinCon last year.

Kirk is an expert in both the self-directed IRA niche and the alternative investments world. His firm, Innovative Advisory Group, helps serve clients in this space with advice.

Self-directed IRAs can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. Just think of the magic of Mitt Romney's $100,000,000 IRA!

When you combine an IRA with alternative investments, you might really be able to work some magic.

What is an Alternative Investment?

Well, right from Kirk's site: "The term “alternative investment” has become a trendy term in the financial services industry to describe new approaches to investing. It is frequently used to describe different asset classes or investment types such as: hedge funds, structured products, managed futures, or even Timber REITs. If you describe traditional assets as stocks, bonds and mutual funds, then by contrast everything else is an alternative investment.

"We look at the term “alternative investments” differently. We take a step beyond the current industry definition and use it to describe assets or investments such as physical real estate, tax liens, physical gold and silver, structured settlements, horses, livestock, farmland, timberland, and more. We would characterize alternative investments as an asset or investment which is: not publicly traded, has a low-correlate to most traditional investments, is too small for institutional investors, is illiquid, is not easily able to be securitized, or is not reliant on the publicly traded markets to be profitable.

"The characterization of what is a suitable asset for diversification purposes is a fluid concept. Some asset classes, which have traditionally provided a low or negative correlation to other assets, have become much more highly correlated since early 2000. Asset classes such as managed futures, timberland, farmland, and certain types of hedge funds in the past did provide a low correlation to the traditional markets, however, due to a higher level of institutional interest in these areas, as well as changing market conditions, they have become more highly correlated to traditional markets. This minimizes the effects of diversification as a risk management tool."

This interview is super fun and super deep.

Enjoy!

Joshua

Links:

Direct download: RPF0143-Kirk_Chisholm_Interview.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:38pm MST

142-One Possible Business Model For an Ethical Financial Planning Practice Serving Middle-Income Families

I designed a potential financial planning practice structure a year or so ago. It has been my backup plan if Radical Personal Finance were unable to be financially productive. (It's probably still a backup of a backup.)

In light of the Episode 139: "My Advice for People Interested In Getting Into Financial Planning," I decided to follow up with some specific ideas for a practice I considered creating.

Here are my ideas. 

The show includes a discussion of:

  • The problem of providing planning for middle-income households
  • The idea of a planning model for a monthly fee
  • How to align advisor and client incentives
  • The benefits of a virtual financial planning meeting
  • The importance of having a clear marketing plan for your practice
  • Ideas for building trust
  • The importance of demonstrating expertise
  • The importance of a niche market focus
  • Limitations on income with this model

Enjoy the show!

Links:

Direct download: RPF0142-Proposed_Financial_Practice.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:13pm MST

141-Establishing a Success Mindset In Preparation for Urban Farming: Interview with Curtis Stone

The most popular episode--by a long shot--of the Radical Personal Finance podcast is Episode 40: "Making $80k on 1/3 Acre With an Urban Farm Without Owning Land? Yes, Please! Interview With Curtis Stone."

Today, Curtis is back for another appearance.

We set out to record a show with a basic overview of how to get into urban farming with some practical steps lined out.

The first step is to get your mindset right. Although our interview got stuck on step one, it wound up being a fascinating discussion of business principles.

We discuss:

  • Setting intelligent goals for urban farming
  • Focusing on a triple bottom line: 1) economic 2) social 3) environmental
  • The value of education and especially specific, focused education

I hope you enjoy!

Joshua

NOTE: Curtis is on the road over the coming weeks with seminars in Florida, California, Washington, British Columbia and Mexico. Details are here: http://www.greencityacres.com/events/

Links:

Direct download: RPF0141-Curtis_Stone_2nd_Interview.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 7:19am MST

On Fridays, I answer your questions! And, even though this is going out on Monday, I still answer your questions! :)

Today, I handle these four questions:

  1. What practical steps can a couple take when planning for one spouse to stay at home?
  2. Is it wise to borrow money on a paid-off house to fund a real estate investment?
  3. How should I factor a defined-benefit pension plan into my asset allocation plan?
  4. How should I set my personal financial goals and pull my life back together after a divorce?

Enjoy!

Joshua

 

Direct download: RPF0140-Friday_QA_Marriage.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:05pm MST

At this point, I'm honored to get about an email a week from someone asking about how to get into the financial planning business. Sometimes, I get multiple emails in a day!

Here are four examples that I mention on the show today:

  • Hi Joshua, I consider personal finance and financial planning a hobby and I dole out my amateur advice to friends, colleagues and family. A little bit of background -- I'm 25 years old and currently working as an auditor in big 4 in my third year and I've just been early promoted to Senior Associate.  The thing is I don't see myself auditing forever and I really want to get into financial planning.  My plan is to start taking the courses for the CFP in May/June 2015 after my busy season is over.  I feel secure in my job but I just don't love it.  Do you have any advice for a 20 something wanting to transition to a career in financial planning with zero experience?
  • Hi Joshua, I’m writing because I’d love to get your insight in a career as a financial advisor.  A little background on myself, I’m a 28 year old CPA who has worked as an auditor at a large CPA firm for the past 4 years.  I’ve been thinking about making a career change, and given my interests I’ve begun looking into possibly starting a career as a financial advisor.  I really enjoy the technical side of financial planning, including the tax side of planning, but am also enjoying learning about the investing side as well. In talking with a few other people, I have heard that being a financial advisor is basically a sales job where you are asked utilize your own contacts to push financial products on.  What I have heard is basically the only way to make money is to have rich friends or family to get established.  I really like the fact that I could be helping people, but the cold calling/pushing financial products on people does not sound appealing.   Also, I don’t believe I have the wealthy contacts needed to get established. I would love to get your insight on this matter, and to hear if the stories I hear about careers as a financial advisor are correct.  Additionally, I would love to hear any recommendations you would have for somebody looking to get into a career as a financial advisor.
  • Hi Joshua, In 2013 I became completely obsessed with all things finance. I first picked up books about "stock picking" because I thought that was the way to go, but within a month or two I was recommended The Intelligent Investor, and I've been going with the "boglehead" strategy since then. I have been very lucky in getting a job straight out of college that pays quite well (software industry) and since I started in July 2013 I've saved 70-80% of my take-home income. I figure within 2015 I will become "FI" at age 25. I've been listening to your podcast daily since I discovered it last month, and needless to say it has quickly become my favorite podcast. Keep up the awesome work, I listen to every new episode! I am interested in becoming a fee-only financial planner. Every time I get the opportunity to talk with someone who is also interested in finance (believe me, this is super rare!) I get very excited. Nothing makes me happier, basically. I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering right now. I am wondering, what is the shortest path that I could take to get to the place where I can "hang out a shingle" and start advising people for a small fee? I am not interested in charging for "assets under management"; I simply want to share knowledge with people so they can make their own investments and financial decisions. I want to do the opposite of most advisors basically! I'd be okay charging very little money for just a consultation, because I will be FI. You mentioned in one episode that you got a master's degree in financial planning, and I know you need the CFP certification. With just my bachelor's degree, could I get this CFP and start taking clients? Or would I need other certifications as well?
  • Hi, Joshua, I have realized over time that I am a poor candidate for the traditional early retirement, and instead, would like to focus my next 15-17 years (roughly age 52-67) on doing something that I like--be it an administrator in a medical business that I believe in, being a health coach for middle age guys trying to get back into shape, or opening a gelato shop in my neighborhood. Actually, my dream job would probably be selling tickets in a booth at a ski resort! Maybe later... I have also thought about becoming a personal finance coach or advisor for docs. I see them make stupid mistakes all the time. I could probably do a series of podcasts on stupid things my partners have done. 

It's a great question and there are a bunch of ways to answer it. I decided for today to focus on the big picture answer which is primarily about having a good fit between your skills, your firm, your firm's abilities, and your prospective clients.

I might do another show on the actual steps needed to set up a firm if you want to do it independently.

In this show I go through:

  • Historical practice models for financial planning
  • Current practice models
  • The importance of sales and sales skills
  • Why you need to know what you bring to the table as a planner
  • The importance of a great marketing plan
  • The importance of a solid transition plan
  • The importance of gaining clarity on what you want to do, who you want to work with, and how you want to work with them

Enjoy!

Joshua

 

Direct download: RPF0139-Advice_for_Getting_Into_Financial_Planning.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 4:00pm MST

We're continuing our college series with an in-depth discussion of 529 plans.

529 plans are incredibly popular in all their permutations. (Many people who are currently participating in a 529 plan don't actually realize it because they refer to it as a pre-paid tuition program.)

They're also under attack. President Obama's most recent budget proposal targeted them for change. (It also targeted Coverdell ESAs.)

Personally, I think 529 plans are often misused and mis-applied. The majority of the mass affluent who participate are simply not getting a huge benefit in exchange for giving up the freedom and flexibility of the money.

But, there are a number of things that can be done with these accounts that are really unique.

Enjoy part 1 of our class today and learn:

  • What the differences are between various types of 529 plans.
  • Who they're a great fit for.
  • How to use them to pay for travel and real estate tax-free.
  • The history of the legislation affecting these accounts.

Enjoy!

Joshua

Links:

Direct download: RPF0138-529_Plans_Pt_1.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 1:02pm MST

137-Ideas To Make More Money on the Side: Interview with Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation

As we rattle around and around the iron triangle of wealth (income, expenses, and intelligent use of the difference), we come today to the topic of income. Specifically, how can you create some extra income?

The world is changing and there are more opportunities to earn some money from a side project than ever before. No longer are you limited to throwing papers early in the morning or delivering pizzas in the evening; now, you can work in all kinds of interesting ways with people from all over the world.

Listen to today's show and enjoy some of the ideas. But, if none of the ideas appeal to you, use them as a jumping off point and create your own idea.

Enjoy!

Joshua

Links:

Direct download: RPF0137-Side_Hustle_Nation_Interview.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 3:54pm MST

We need to get into some economics today and I'm going to do some prognosticating. This is a very rare event on the show, so here goes!

Prediction: there will be a global recession in the future. And gas will go up to $20/gallon.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about what we can do to get ready for it! After all, that's the only thing that likely matters to you or me.

One of the keys to being financially successfully over the long term is to avoid the big mistakes. One big mistake (of many) might be getting laid flat by the coming recession and increase in gas prices.

Today I share with you some thoughts on some of the things you can do today to prepare for this eventuality.

I hope these ideas are useful to you!

Joshua

Links:

 

Direct download: RPF0136-Gas_Prices.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 3:14pm MST

135-Be Confident in Your Unique Offering and Then Stick To Your Knitting

Today's show is a bit of a pep talk--for you but also for me! 

We are taught by society to compare ourselves with other people. Even though we're all supposed to be "unique and different, we're really not. After all, we're measured on our weight as a baby (compared to all other babies), our grades as a student (compared with our class ranking), and the amount of money we make and have (thus defining us as successful)!

Well, let's challenge that a bit. Sometimes we need a reminder to forget about what everyone else is doing and focus on what we're doing and why we're doing it.

Join me today for a bit of a pep talk. I hope you find it encouraging. I was encouraged as I created the show.

Joshua

Here are the influences on today's show:

  1. Farnoosh Toorabi's new podcast.
  2. This chapter in Richard Feynman's book: "The Chief Research Chemist of the Metaplast Corporation.
  3. Gary North's publication today of his free new book "The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics."

 

Direct download: RPF0135-Be_Confident.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 2:39pm MST