Die With Zero–FI/RE, the YOLO edition

I picked up a copy of Die With Zero, H/T Monevator, and it was a pleasant read over about half a day. The TL/DR summary is that we are doing this FI/RE stuff all wrong, and should start spending more earlier.

I certainly found the book worth the Amazon Kindle price-tag (£7), and I have occasionally wondered if I should be spending more. DWZ’s takeaway is a resounding Hell Yeah, and it’s certainly a different way of looking at things from your normal FI/RE trajectory – eat rice and beans while working in the City/IT Big Cheese/well paid job and quit at 45.

Some things I have already got right – retiring in my early fifties and not working at any significant level is very DWZ. I’d really like to be able to say that was a carefully planned strategy marshalling all my resources from the previous 20 years, but it wasn’t. Learn well from the error of my ways, young fellow Winking smile

There’s an app for that

I was unable to get his app to work properly, in the sense of giving me useful insights, though it seemed to function serviceably1.

It didn’t like a lot of things about me. For starters it can’t process someone who retired nine years ago. Computer sez WTF?

Screenshot_2021-05-11 DIE WITH ZERO

HAL9000 –> Ermine, I can’t do that

so it’s one for all you pre-FIRE-ees out there. So I decided to start hacking. I pretended that I want to retire in a year from now, I have an income of my pension, and I get 100% of that in future. After all, a DB pension is an annuity, innit.

This is where using an app designed by somebody else where you have no insight into the works starts to go wrong. You’re stuck with poking and prodding a black box. I should bear in mind that Bill is a hedge fund manager, so his idea of enough is probably very different to mine. But most of the scenarios basically come back saying I am too poor. Which, quite frankly, I don’t believe. It is true that at the moment I am spending more than my DB pension, because I am putting money into a project I believe in, but that won’t last forever. But if I were to add 1/25th of the capital in my ISA (to approximate the SWR) I am nowhere near spending my aggregate income. The app is also horrifically sensitive to what I enter as my networth. So I just don’t believe the results, although I accept that I am excluding housing networth, the money I am earning and I adjusted the value of the ISA down by 33% because I believe the stock market is overvalued by at least that much2. Perhaps I am not DWZ’s book target market. I don’t think it can qualify my pension properly, and it tells me I don’t have enough networth to sustain my current outgoings. However, if DWZ’s app can’t see my pension, and I don’t regard housing as networth, then perhaps GIGO applies.

I struggled to get consistency from his app, for instance if I set my networth closer to its nominal amount then he tells me that perhaps I have a couple more years of investing to do. So unless you are younger than 50, and have at least five years to retirement I would say proceed with care, this is too simplistic.

DWZ’s app works better for young people. Let’s go back in time

If you’re a 20-something Ermine newly graduated but unemployed, and you are trying to work out if you should borrow the money to see your favourite lady singer at the high-water mark of her career, however, DWZ and a grizzled mustelid are in perfect agreement

Screenshot_2021-05-11 DIE WITH ZERO(3)

Borrow the cash young stoat, go see her, Bill and Mustelid in perfect harmony. The numbers are total guestimates, because after all, it was forty years ago when I failed this test. There’s much hindsight bias, I put in the app’s income the inflation-adjusted value of my first real job, but I only got that job six months after I would have boarded the plane.

The backstory is the mustelid that took/didn’t take that decision was burned out after struggling in the third year of university, into the humdinger of Thatcher’s first recession. It was a tough time, hope had died in the UK as far as the economy went, there was rioting in the streets and the government considered abandoning Liverpool and other cities in the north. There was rioting in Brixton, Handsworth, Leeds and Moss Side.

Unemployment was 10% and rising

Unemployment rate (aged 16 and over, seasonally adjusted)

Foreign travel was much dearer in the early 1980s – I had never been on an aircraft by then- the first time I got on a plane was for a business meeting at work.

So there’s hand-waving going on here – knowing the track of the next four decades of course I should have borrowed the money. But faced with the same decision now, against the same background of rioting and rising unemployment without foreknowledge of what happened – I don’t know if that was just beyond my risk tolerance.

Intriguing that Bill also says don’t start saving for a pension until you are 35. I have much sympathy for the concept that the magical power of compound interest is vastly overrated. Every time I make that case, I get my head boiled. So three cheers for Bill, making the case for the counterfactual. Saving Hard is what builds your wealth for FI/RE. Compound interest slows the decline once you have it – if you work 40 years steadily saving, at typical long-term rates of appreciation compounding roughly doubles your savings by the time you retire. And Bill makes a good case that the small amount of money you have at the start of your working life packs a greater punch when delivered as YOLO than as you retirement savings. Where I perhaps differ from him is don’t borrow3 it!

Self knowledge is won hard in the university of life. As I take Bill to task for later on, I am not sure that just being a slowly decaying experiencing unit is the mark of a life well lived. Know thyself, as the oracle at the temple of Delphi intimated to its querents.

What you miss out on hurts more than what you cock up

This story is an interesting illustration of the other effect Bill said – people looking back at the ends of their lives recall the sins of omission more than those of commission. Hopefully it is a little while till I am on my deathbed, but when I look back, this minor failure to believe that I would ever find a job, and not taking the chance looms surprising large relative to other financial balls-ups. The actual amount it would have cost was not earth-shattering. Indeed, when I did get the first job, a few months after I did borrow about six month’s salary on interest-free credit to by a piece of hi-fi secondhand. I didn’t pay interest, and that amplifier served me well for thirty years. So while as a grizzled mustelid I shake my head at the daft headiness of it, the young mustelid made a reasonable call in that case as it turned out.

I’m sure my younger self bought all sorts of overpriced rubbish, but I don’t remember these as particular mistakes. Spaffing six month’s salary is barking on a strict personal finance basis, but I was living with my parents, earning for the first time, not running a car, and the capital plant lasted 30+ years and I didn’t pay interest. A couple of years ago I sold it on Ebay in working order for half the nominal amount I bought it for.

I’ve made much bigger financial mistakes

The dumbest financial mistake and sin of commission that I made, of course, was buying a house at the top of the market. I have spent endless posts on here snarling about that, to push back at the endless house-price boosterism of the UK. In the end the good Lord sees to it, as the Germans say, that the trees don’t grow into the sky, and you really, really, don’t want to be the one holding the baby at that time. We cannot call when it will happen, but I do expect to see it in my lifetime, and it will ruin another generation of young housebuyers. I have the same feeling for the UK housing market as Hunter S Thompson felt about the TV biz

It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason

And yet the passage of Time softens the blow, when I ask myself what are my greatest errors on finance, while numerically the house is head and shoulders up there, but the missed opportunity feels of the same order.

Bill Perkins illustrates this point with the song Cat’s in the Cradle, which I had never heard before.

It doesn’t have a huge resonance for me because I am child-free, and I grew up at a time when there was better work-life balance so I wouldn’t say I experienced this sort of thing as a child. But there is some point there. Aspirational people do some pretty insane things for their children, often valuing money and things for them rather than time with them. But: not my circus, not my monkeys.

a MINO – financial mistake in name only

Another financial mistake I made was churning in the dotcom boom. All the way into the bust.


What churn looks like in contract notes. It’s not big, it’s not clever. Buy VWRL. And sit on it. You know it makes sense.

Not only did I act like a dick, I then sold it all in the bust, bought a Virgin FTSE allshare ISA, CATmarked with low fees of 1% p.a (!) and the pain kept coming. So I sold out. In 2003. Inspect this chart of the FTSE allshare and marvel at my younger self’s absolute genius for screwing up market timing. I lost probably the equivalent of £13k in today’s money on that escapade. I don’t even regard that as a loss, nowadays – it was a damn good training in the university of hard knocks in what not to do, and the price of the tuition fee has been refunded many, many times over. It doesn’t even register as a loss, now. You can read Monevator’s sage words as much as you like, but the only way to learn not to sell out indiscriminately in a market rout is to pass through one and come up for air. If you can buy into the low-water mark then all to the good, but if you make it out the other side with what you went in with, then that’s just fine.

If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.

Mark Twain

You gotta hold that market cat by the tail to learn, until then your knowledge of yourself is all wind and piss. Even once you’ve learned how to hold that tail without getting scratched the first time isn’t a guarantee of success the next, but it helps. There’s nothing wrong in ballsing up – it’s if you get back on the horse that is the mark of the Right Stuff, particularly if the outcome is better second time around.

The differences that grated:

Bill Perkins, DWZ’s author, is/was a hedge fund manager, high stakes poker player and if Wikipedia is right he doesn’t walk the talk – he’s still working. I was already retired at his age… I know, Internet Retirement Police and all that, but if you’re going to write a book telling other people to stop working because it burns your time, then, well, JFDI because it also applies to the guy in the mirror.

It’s probably safe to say that his attitude to risk is six sigma off the mean Winking smile Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being slightly rabid, but Bill’s up there in the one in 300,000. That will not apply to most of his readers, this one included.

He is an extreme extrovert, with what looks to me a hugely external locus of control. Hats off to him for being a very sharp cookie, because observation shows me that (early) retirement is where introverts finally start to win out. His story of the 45th birthday party on an island where he paid for his mates to stay while Natalie Merchant sang for them struck me as gauche.

I got nothing against Natalie and it sounded like everyone had a good time, but oy vey, Conspicuous Consumption writ large Bill me old mucker. And classic extrovert – you gain energy from other people. I’m not saying it was wrong for this guy and that time, but that’s the problem with any self-help book. There is an implicit generalisation from the particular instance of the author’s life to the general population.

Bill seems to have zero conception of the process of individuation. He values outward focused experiences and sports. The latter makes him feel the fading of physical strength to a degree that I don’t feel, and it stops him doing things that matter to him.

His book is written as if he is atomic. Many people have significant others in their lives, in which case if the first partner one does the DWZ routine the survivor is on rice and beans for the rest of their life. I appreciate that hedge fund managers can probably consider their finances in isolation because both parties are probably rich enough to see themselves out, but it is a very serious anomaly in the book for many putative readers. He deals intelligently with the issue of your financial relationship to your adult children, but in some cases having children creates earning asymmetries that should be at least acknowledged IMO.

There is no spiritual dimension to Bill’s idea of retirement. It is all about what you do, nothing about what you become. Retirement should change you, and hopefully for the better and deepen your character, you should become more you. Bill’s narrative is one of endless attrition, because of his focus on the outward and the physical. Bill, me old mate, a word in your shell-like from a mustelid that is not hugely older than you. Hark the words of Carl Jung

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes

Things I agreed with him wholeheartedly were

Don’t work so bloody hard or so long4. Work to live, don’t live to work. This seems a pathology endemic in the high-flyers of the FI/RE movement – to earn enough to be able to consider FI/RE you seem to easily end up with Stockholm syndrome with the means (working), losing sight of the end.

I’ve softened my rabid all or nothing approach, funnily enough, as the dreadful experience of my last years at The Firm recede into the distance, but I absolutely agree with DWZ that while you are working you’re not living, even if you do what you love, love what you do as the twat Steve Jobs exhorted the peons that made him rich.

Jobs to peons. Make Me rich, fanbois, and drink the Kool-Aid

However, I had to do a double-take when I heard DWZ was over 50, because in my view he hasn’t used his time well in some areas that I think I have. I respect his sovereign right to be the raging extrovert that he appears to be, and he’s worth a lot more. I do note that the thesis of the book remains untested by the protagonist, however. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

He delightfully deconstructed the kids issue. I hear time and time again how people want to leave shitloads of money to their kids. Fine, in which case give it to the precious fruit of your loins in their thirties, where it can change their lives for the better, but after they have learned to handle money and hopefully built a modicum of character.  Not only does it get to change their lives for the better earlier, but you get to enjoy them enjoying the benefits of your largesse. That’s really tough to do from six foot under. Humans tend to spawn between 20-30, if you’re rich enough to be expecting an inheritance then you will probably receive it in your 60s if in comes when your parents cark it, and the average lifespan of a rich person is 80. That’s too late to make a huge difference to your life.

Think about your spending pattern over time. I hadn’t appreciated the changes of the spending profile over time, in particular spending more 50-70 than later giving you more bang for your buck is set in sharper focus.

I already thought about life’s seasons, but more from a psychological angle. His time buckets idea is good and is another of his apps – split the time you have left into 5 or ten year periods, and ask yourself what you want to and can do in those periods. How much time do you have left – if you are rich enough to entertain FI/RE and have no known health issues then a reasonable hypothesis is dying at about 80-85, though you can finesse this eg here. According to that crew an Ermine would be somewhat undercounting assuming 80… If they are right I will have been retired a lot longer that I will have been working by the time I am through.

Although I am a very different person from DWZ’s author I got £7 worth of provocative thought out of the book. I had already been drifting towards his conclusion, which is basically spend more 😉 His rule of thumb taking the amount of years you have left times your annual spending and needing a starting networth of 70% of the total was an intriguing approach. There’s merit in it (you have to read the book to get the reasoning, I don’t find it outlandish). That is probably not a million miles from the Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) of 4%. Most people retire with 20-25 years left to live, DWZ gives you a slightly easier ride that a 4% SWR.

In a spot of precognitive clairvoyance, before I’d read the book, I’d decided to do some YOLO spending.

Ermine in the country– prehistoric stones and decadent indulgence

The Ermine household decamped to the neighbouring county of Dorset for three days of decadence and the investigation of minor megalithic marvels.


It was slightly strange venturing out in this halfway-house between in and out. Fortunately we had lovely weather, because eating alfresco in late April in the UK is still on the freezing side. It felt weird to be so close! to so many people! I have the feeling the hospitality sector is a little bit fast and loose with the description of ‘outside’ at times


but yes, this beachfront café was more outside than inside. What’s not to like? Going in the quieter part of midweek meant that we had a reasonable amount of space, and while in general you shouldn’t have anything and chips more than once a week we indulged. And Purbeck ice cream, very fine it was too. We stayed at an annexe associated with a country pub. Here’s a sight I hadn’t seen for a long time.


Beer. In a pub. Or more to the point, on a pub bench outside a pub, but I’m not carping. Been more than a year since I last saw this.

One of the joys of reaching the end of one’s FI accumulation days is you don’t have to feel bad about the latte factor. I’ve never been one for regular coffee on the way to work. Partly because I haven’t worked in a city since 1989 and partly because I am not a connoisseur of weird coffee. Mrs Ermine uses a thing on a stove and favours the punch over grace IMO – she gains something from coffee out because it is slightly less like battery acid than the jolt from the espresso gizmo. I am happy with Americano or filter coffee. I also detest the taste of a cardboard cup, so the honest-to-goodness latte factor was never a problem for me. Because I can’t stand milky coffee in a cardboard cup. Simples. However, in a sort of similar vein to DWZ –

Because you’re worth it

The latte factor gets pushback from some folk that take the line straight out the 1970s – because you’re worth it

Money? It’s easy to make in their world. Drink the coffee, because you’re worth it.

I don’t believe wealth is a scarce resource. I believe wealth is abundant. It’s just that most people aren’t willing to learn the skills and put in the work to acquire more of it. There are almost always ways that you can make more money, especially in the era of 2% unemployment rates, side hustles and six and seven-figure online businesses. More people than ever are finding ways to make an income outside of their day job, through working for gig-economy companies, starting part-time businesses, selling stuff online and investing in real estate.

Hmm, from what I’ve seen of the gig economy and side hustles, it’s low rent. XKCD has got it taped


Sure, if you’re pulling twice the median wage go knock yourself out on the lattes, though perhaps still steady on on the McMansions and vintage cars if you have aims to early FI. Beware any shmuck who is selling you a line straight out of the ad industry.

Vary your hedonism

In my runout at The Firm I was drinking more wine than was probably good for me, but now I aim never ever to drink homebrew again and I am prepared to pay a decent bit more for better wine, which means we need less of it – splitting a bottle is OK. The tradeoff of the higher price is I get to do it once or twice a week, rather than, well, more often. Hedonism is addictive, but it loses its punch in quantity. So spread it out. Mix in some fine dining, and seeing something different. Avoid the demon of hedonic adaptation. Calvinist spoilsports have one solution to that when they say restricting pleasure increases pleasure, but IMO there’s a better way. Too much of a good thing can be too much, so switch to something else good before the first gets too much.

Not everywhere, not all the time, not all the same thing.

Humans are devils for normalising to a step change. The admen know this and use this. If they get you to try {insert product or service here} for just a couple of months, you will feel the loss of the product more than the initial gain. That’s why Netflix is free for the first month. Amazon keep on trying to flog me Prime. Sure, I don’t want to pay for delivery, but I am generally perfectly happy to wait a day or so. so I keep on having to hit the diddly ‘No thanks, as I was’ text link rather than the mahoosive Try Prime button.

MSE’s Martin Lewis did a feature on the reason behind free offers a few years back and it’s still a good’un seven years later.

There are many people who wouldn’t sign up to a movie service they don’t really need if they had to pay for it but they would do it for a free trial. They go in with a view to cancelling it when their trial ends but at that point they’ve already become accustomed to it and getting rid of it means it’s a loss. And we as human beings don’t like loss.

I don’t like the pain of the loss either. So I take it up front. I don’t do free offers, and I try and tolerate subscriptions as little as possible. They’re OK on needs that you consume regularly, so yes to power, and water, and  no to mobile phone subscriptions, Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime in my case.

DWZ on buying services to buy time

OTOH I am prepared to spend either to satisfy intellectual curiosity, or to make life better. I was intrigued by DWZ’s take on paying to buy time. Retiring early is, of course, the ultimate purchase of time with money. There are other places where I’d go that way. I don’t ever want to paint a wall again, both because the result sucks as I lack skill and patience, particularly where the wall meets the ceiling, but also because I can’t be arsed.

But it did also make be think, rather than occasionally pressure-washing my kitchen sink drain outfall because the stupid posers that lived here before dispensed with the outside gulley and u-bend because it spoiled the nice unbroken surface of the patio, maybe I should pick up the phone to a local firm and get them to take all that poncey crap out, reinstate the gulley (which would also stop my feet getting wet when using the outside tap) and be done with it. I’m not quite there yet, but getting there.

The problem with this one is it doesn’t really take that much time, and my 15 year old pressure washer is good enough, now that I have discovered the Chinese sell adaptors on ebay from 20mm 5 to 14.5mm quickfit.   But I will occasionally remember Bill and ask myself if I should stop doing this the next time it happens.

  1. The app is a web app, run from https://www.diewithzerobook.com/apps Obviously  prudence is the order of the day with financial information and the Internet, but the parameters are so general I didn’t deem it a risk in my case, though YMMV. He doesn’t demand personal details or email, or even that you buy his book 
  2. I’m of the view that the world stock market in itself is overvalued by closer to 50%, but that is why there is a significant amount of gold and things like RCP and other ITs. I would say a serious weakness of Bill’s app is that it doesn’t take valuation into account, which is strange, because it could easily get the world or US market CAPE on the backend and adjust the projected future returns accordingly. He is targeting a US readership so the S&P CAPE would do, and let’s not forget that if you are buying VWRL global equity index you are 50% in US equities, so it’ll probably work for you too. 
  3. The case of borrowing to see that that singer’s tour was a one-off – she was early thirties, and having children poleaxes many female singers’ careers. I probably didn’t boil it down analysing it in those terms at the time, but that’s how it played out. I am not saying that Bill is saying borrow the money, though in that chapter he talks wistfully at his roomie who borrowed from a loan shark to go and tour Europe. I was going to borrow the money on my Access card rather than the sort of guy who will break your legs, milquetoast mustelid that I was. 
  4.  I observe Bill seems to have missed a trick here. Easy to say, hard to do for high flyers, and he even cites the story of the trader that tells Bill to punch him in the face if he is still working after having made $15,000,000. The trader went on to be worth $4bn, but he burned more of the hours of his life to get there. Eat your own dog food, Bill. 
  5. Precisely why B&Q went with 20mm thread rather than 22mm which seems to be the industry standard Karcher thread for home pressure washers beats me, but some kind soul in Shenzhen fixed this problem for me, and now this ancient pressure washer can use quickfit and Karcher fittings. And I can buy a secondhand Karcher lance, since replacing the nitrile O rings in the B&Q lance doesn’t seem to make a lasting repair. 

27 thoughts on “Die With Zero–FI/RE, the YOLO edition”

  1. Thanks for another great read. Brilliant song ‘The Cats in the Cradle’, and always makes me a bit sad to listen to. As I get older I have more and more nostalgia for the drunken Irish sing songs that my family regularly had, and on the words of another great song ‘you don’t know what you’ve got too it’s gone’ – Joni Mitchell.

    Agree with the sentiments of spending more of your money but in truth not a lot at moment I want. Have all the gadgets and gizmos I want. Quite happy sitting in my greenhouse with a cup of tea sometimes. I suppose when we can start holidaying properly again I will spend more.

    After being an absolute idiot and changing my DC pot to cash literally on the day in March 20 when they hit their lowest part I am leaving my 5 years buffer in cash and fortunately have my DB pensions from 60. Reckon it has cost me about £10k but hey ho.
    Both our DBs are definitely good luck rather than foresight.

    Think I will buy that book DWZ, though will have to check they have it on kobo. Love my kobo for the free library books from my local council. Some people count sheep but I virtually count my money each night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kobo, eh. I use Calibre and deDRM to break out library books onto Kindle, which is a more roundabout way of doing that. I do miss the tactile sense of how far you are in a book, and also to be able to refer to a particular page, but in the last year the non-contact library book has really come into its own!


  2. Thanks for the review, Ermine. I seen a few reviews about the web about this book so the author must clearly be doing something right. I’m in my late 40s and I realise I’m happy enough with my life.

    I like trying out new things, but equally I haven’t got anything I’m desperate to do/regretful about not doing. I’m ambivalent about travel. It’s good for the occasional reset, but too much stimulation is exhausting. I actually enjoy many of the regular everyday things I do. Inhaling the smell of sun-baked washing mid-afternoon on a hot day is pretty much bliss as is talking crap with some similarly middle-aged mountain bikers a top of a hill while the sun goes down.

    I’d started to think about buckets before too. I realised about five years ago that my forties were a great, and perhaps, the last time to embark on highly physically demanding activity so I did. I’m never going to win anything doing it, but eventually I’ve become competent enough to teach it to younger peeps – and find it very rewarding to see them grow in confidence and ability. I have a vague notion of getting back to art one day, but that might wait until I fully retire.

    I think your comment about not wanting to be a living walking experiencing machine is right. Sometimes the most fulfilling is to simply be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > I’m ambivalent about travel. It’s good for the occasional reset, but too much stimulation is exhausting.

      Funny old game, that. I thought I was going to do a lot more travel when I retired, but I didn’t count with the fact that what I hated about air travel in my forties for work still held, I hate from the bottom of my heart other people in airports and their blasted kids, and the whazzocks that spend ten minutes trying to cram a bag that is twice the side of the ‘maximum carry on bag size’ gizmo into it. I am not yet rich enough to be able to pay business class, although maybe I should consider it, since i don’t fly often enough for it to add up significantly, and, well, Bill Perkins would like to have a word 😉

      It’s also pushed so damned hard. I agree, seeing something new is all to the good, the prehistoric temples of Malta were lovely and I am glad we went, but an awful lot of travel seems to be a combination of running away from your awful job for a couple of weeks or trying to sex up your Instagram/FB/social media feed. I’m not absolutely sure a better IG feed is worth ruining the environment for your grandkids, though I can understand the need to forget the daily grind.

      > and find it very rewarding to see them grow in confidence and ability

      Influencing people’s lives inn a positive way seems to become more rewarding as one’s fur grizzles, good for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent review – and I love the way you relate it to you (and yours) story – past, current, and foreseen.
    DWZ’s “atomic” approach is a major omission and H/T for highlighting this. Survivor scenarios are important and can often be the undoing of an otherwise good plan due to various asymmetries – not just earnings disparities.

    Re the App and pension – it may be that the App assumes pensions are not indexed – as is not uncommon in the US. I am not familiar with the App – but, if modelled, the App would surely assume social security is index linked.

    > because I am putting money into a project I believe in
    Intriguing comment, anything to share?

    Did you have any lobster and was the beer as good as it looks?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > Did you have any lobster and was the beer as good as it looks?

      Failed on the lobster because we went to the beach cafe early in the week to minimise exposure to the crowds. Lobster wasn’t on the menu early in the week – perhaps they don’t want to take the risk of carrying a wasting asset with lower table cover, though it’s hardly like the tumbleweed was a major problem. It wasn’t a dreadful hardship to slum it with rose and fish and chips 😉

      We then went on to the Crab Shack Cafe later in the week and took down a spider crab, so we can’t grizzle about a dearth of seafood or decadence. The beer was fantastic – it wasn’t actually Tribute as the glass indicates, Butcombe and Landlord ISTR. The experience of being out was great, though we were deeply grateful for the patio heater as the evening wore on!

      I lost half of this post with the crab because I hate the new WordPress Gutenberg editor with a vengeance. It doesn’t do footnotes and assumes that you are an incompetent git writing on a mobile phone. So I use OpenLiveWriter now. I think the blame falls squarely on operator error 😉


      1. >Crab Shack Cafe
        is that the place recommended by a reader of your previous post?
        Shame you lost the crabby part of your post!

        The best I can manage is a few weeks ago I had to drop my car at the garage for some work and, as it was a nice afternoon, decided to walk home. I stumbled upon an open fish & chip shop and bought some chips to eat on the way – they were good and the first ‘chipper’ chips I had had for over a year. I made the mistake of telling the OH when I got home – so had to go back again the next day, after collecting my car, to buy fish & chips to take home – which were good too. No sea view – but nice nonetheless; …. simple pleasures!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Simple pleasures, indeed – I’ll drink to that. An excuse to go back to a decent chippie isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Perhaps we are the coiled spring…

        > Shame you lost the crabby part of your post!

        Recovered, regenerated. I can recommend it!


    1. That gold article is interesting. I wish I could say I had analysed things with retirementace’s vigour, but most of the reason I shifted in that direction is a legacy of the gains of the last year and the gut feeling of serious overvaluation of the equity markets.

      Reading their article, I could wish for the comparison to be with world equities, because although I still have a UK tilt due to the legacy HYP holdings I am slowly running these out of town, shifting to a VWRL and gold balance. I’ve obviously let the grass grow under my feet looking at a SWR of 4% – with my gold allocation that article qualifies my SWR at 3.5%. However, it’s predicated on a UK portfolio, not a 80% world allocation.

      Somewhat more confounding, I concluded that since gold is a deadweight in terms of productivity, the SWR really only applies to the equity part of the portfolio, it would be irrational to consider gold as part of the portfolio value for SWR computations, because it earns ‘owt. Which reduces the effective SWR, bringing it a little more in line with retirementace’s values. I still haven’t really established whether its a little bit mad to hold the gold in my ISA, rather than outside, and use my CGT allowance if necessary. There are enough gold ETFs that you could sell SGLP and buy say RMAU at the same time to crystallise CGT without falling foul of the 30 day rule and without exiting the asset class for 30 days/a significant period. I don’t use my CGT allowance, because I do not have any non-cash financial assets a outside the ISA and a tiny amount in a SIPP, again where you can’t use CGT.


      1. I cannot currently recall seeing a similar analysis using global equities, but ERN’s analysis using the S&P500 may be of some use to you, see: https://earlyretirementnow.com/2020/01/08/gold-hedge-against-sequence-risk-swr-series-part-34/.

        What struck me when I compared these two posts is that the shot in the arm (SWR uplift) from gold is far greater for the UK vs US equities. Whether this is real or just an artefact of detailed differences in the two analysis approaches is not totally clear to me. IMO it is noteworthy that both pieces comment on the lack of long-term reliable gold prices but go on to tackle this issue in different ways.


  4. I’m sat here approaching sixty whilst seeing declining birth rates and hostility to foreign workers and wondering how it’s all going to add up. It looks quite possible that my parents and mother in law will still be alive at my point of retirement.

    I think I’ll stick with my conservative spending.

    I don’t know why I keep reading your posts, I get recurring PTSD every time you remind me of what happened in the housing market 🙂 That scarred my financial thinking for life, to the point where I’m not sure I can give good advice to my son who is about to buy his first house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robots may be an answer. Already really big in care homes in Japan.

      Also think there will be increasing polarisation of health/life spans. Already our current understanding makes it both much easier to accumulate a lot of lifestyle related co-morbidities by your late 40s or avoid doing so until well into your 80s – providing you have the knowledge/social/economic opportunity/luck.


    1. It appeared to work that time. Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything I can change to make it work different one way or another, since it is the WordPress corporation that is in charge of the plumbing


  5. One of the problems I see with this DWZ/YOLO philosophy is that you may have a significant other who is risk-averse and security-obsessed, That person in my case wants to have mucho money in the bank as part of her continued contentment.
    Right now I am feeling slightly guilty having replaced a nine-year-old desktop computer with a new Dell box -even though she uses it as much as I do, and the old one was no longer supported by Windows 10. And believe me, we can well afford it.
    We are still locked down here in Canada, but honestly I don’t mind the lack of travel or shopping. It would be nice to have breakfast at our favorite local spot (assuming it’ll reopen.) They serve their coffee in mugs BTW.
    My 40-something daughter is working hard on a Master’s degree in Theology, and it has been a pleasure to assist her with some of the tuition fees. You can’t take it with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I felt uncomfortable that the dude was so atomic. For sure, if you’re a hedgie, fair enough, your SO can sink or swim on their own rights. Your kids, fair enough, I think he has it taped – assist ’em while you can enjoy having assisted ’em – your daughter being a case in point. You get the warm fuzzy feeling, they get optionality. What’s not to like.

      But some of us have to make the call – there be crosstalk between us and our SOs. I am older than Mrs Ermine, and I don’t want her to be on rice and beans. Unless she wants to be on rice and beans, in which case, great, that’s her cross to bear, but I don’t ant to be the cause of it.So I don’t aim to DWZ. Obvs if I survive Mrs Ermine , well I am going to drink too much and see what gives…

      > They serve their coffee in mugs BTW.

      One day I hope to live long enough to sample some decent coffee over your side of the Pond. If it don’t happen well, so be it. But hey, that they understand the requirements of decent coffee is a reason to hold out!


  6. With hindsight I could have spent more in the 1980’s but I didn’t know that then. My instincts then were to save and invest (and buy entry level hi-fi) and that has served me well. I should probably spend more now, when we get the chance, but to die with zero would feel like a defeat and would let down my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow – to invest back then? Blimey. It took me nearly 25 years from starting work to get my act together in a competent way. OK so I had BT shares from that demutualisation, but so did many people.

      I do think the greatest weakness of DWZ’s core thesis is that being so fricking rich himself, he has no idea that the proles financial lives are more interdependent, particular when there are kids involved.

      While I think there is a tremendous amount to be said for Bill’s attitude to giving the money when it can change the children’s lives for the better, and you presumably get the benefit of seeing them benefit, it’s again not quite so applicable to the little people, because they may need to hold back money to fund the risks of their own retirement, and only after they have died is it known what they can spare for their kids, even though the latter may be approaching retirement by then.

      The aristocracy deal with this conundrum by a) having enough and b) sometimes skipping a generation and leaving the pile to the blessed grandchildren in the dynasty, also minimising IHT.


      1. I invested in time to experience the 1987 crash, and all the ones that followed.
        We will give some money to the children before our time is up, but it’s a complex decision.


  7. This is Max from RetirementAce. I´m pleased that my post about gold proved interesting but I do take on board the comment about the analysis not being sufficiently international. I do tend to focus more on the UK simply because US investors have many resources available and we in the UK are rather limited. However, for some time now I have been making my own investments far more internationally biased and I will try to reflect this in my future research and posts. As far as gold is concerned both PortfolioCharts and PortfolioVisualizer are useful sources for a more international perspective as their limited historic databases are not such a limitation as gold prices are only of interest post-1971.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Max,
      Certainly was good food for thought, though in my case classic confirmation bias for a pre-existing prejudice against bonds (due to my bond-like DB pension). And a slight predilection for the shiny stuff. However, it it sobering to see the issues of shortness of recent recent track record. Sure, gold has a superb long run track record, but i nthe long run we are all dead etc.

      BTW in your gravatar you may want to switch the URL retirementace.co.uk which goes to namechaep’s default page over to http://www.retirementace.co.uk which is your website. There’s an argument to get your tech support to redirect retirementace.co.uk to http://www.retirementace.co.uk anyway, shame ot needlessly lose traffic! Good luck and thanks for the analysis.


  8. with respect to the discussion about travel

    why not think about “slow travel” so that the journey in itself becomes the adventure.

    This could be trekking, carrying all you need on your back, it could be cycle touring, where you carry all you need on your bike, it could be by horse, with a donkey on a canal barge etc.

    The planning is almost as exciting as the execution of a trip like this.

    Some links below for those that might be interested in exploring this type of travel:





    Liked by 1 person

    1. That looks neat – I was quite taken with the great stones way book https://www.cicerone.co.uk/the-great-stones-way-second

      I had a look once at some of the Ridgeway, but the point about a ridgeway is there’s no damn water or settlements. I’m not hard enough to sleep in a tent that you pack in, so that kind of nixed the idea. I’m also not hard enough to cycle with that sort of load, though this looked cool https://en.eurovelo.com/ev1/land-of-the-fjords

      It’s more specifically air travel that I loath. I loathe it as a groundhog with all the damned racket in the air, where once as a child I recorded the sparrows in my parents’ south London garden I struggled to carry a conversation with my mother a few years ago because of the aircraft every three minutes to a combination of city airport (that didn’t exist in the 1970s) and LHR. And this is SE London, I shudder to think what the earache is like in my old digs in Alperton and Ealing.

      I loathe it as a passenger because hell is other people. I first went on an aircraft in my 30s in the 1990s in business class for work, when a return flight to Europe was about £400. That’s about the right price IMO, it sets demand at a manageable level. One of the few silver linings in the pandemic was it might destroy the low cost airline biz, preferably bury the idea in vitrified glass and put a sentry-gun over the idea so no putative Freddie Laker can come up with the infernal idea in future. But I fear it’s not to be. Air travel should be expensive because of all the externalities, from the million or so people whose tranquillity you bend for a quarter of an hour to the pollution and the damage done by mass tourism to destinations. Every other year, maybe, but every other month for the ‘gram? Particularly as these are often the same bleeding hearts that care desperately about their darling grandchildren’s future.

      So it’s a specific form of travel that I have grown to loathe, although mass tourism and the social media revolution comes a close second. I can afford in terms of time to travel slower and still well enough to hike, though I can foresee a time where I may go DWZ and spend more on comfort. I wonder if Great British Railways might one day fix train travel in this country – it doesn’t have to be cheap but thinning out the 50:1 variation in ticket prices could be a start. But flying – hell, I don’t know why people put themselves through that. Though if we carry on pissing our near neighbours off by detaining them without charge for having the temerity to come for an interview or wanting to visit their ageing parents then perhaps short-haul flying may become less attractive post-pandemic.


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