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What caught my eye this week.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a suitably anti-climactic New Year. But there is something firmly transitional about that strange two weeks, isn’t there?

A friend sent me Private Eye’s video recap of 2019, and it already seems incredibly out-of-date. Jokes about Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri? So last decade.

However a relic of 2019 that I’m not yet completely over yet (bar the ‘B’ word!) is the recent debate I had with the rest of the band about financial independence and early retirement.

Partly that’s because you guys have delivered some excellent follow-up comments to continue the conversation. (Link below!)

But it’s probably also because it’s been a while since I mentally visited some of the wider themes – living for today versus tomorrow, how to best spend 8am to 11pm, and on – and despite my rhetorical posturing for debate purposes, the pushback from The Accumulator gave me plenty to think about.

If you’re still kicking it over, too, then there are two relevant reads in The Guardian this week.

First off, Oliver Burkeman asks whether you’re living too much in the future at the expense of now. He has wider themes than just saving for retirement in mind, but it’s still a relevant read:

The problem with treating every year (or week, or hour) as something you’re supposed to put to use is that you end up living permanently focused on the future.

The more strenuously you try to get something out of life, the more emotionally invested you become in reaching the point at which you’ve succeeded in doing so – which is, necessarily, never now.

One of my arguments was that some FIRE-seekers seem too happy to slog through a bad existence now because they’ve pinned their hopes on a far-flung retired future. There are counterarguments in our debate so I won’t rehash it, but I will flag up this second interesting article on learning to love the job you have now:

There are simple steps we can take to start rebalancing this relationship with our workplace.

Researchers have found that even the most miserable job can be redeemed by taking back a little control.

That word ‘control’ is key. Several people in the comments to our five-part barny said they were all-in on early retirement because they don’t want to be told what to do.

I can fully understand that.

My own solution was long ago to become my own boss, and to work generally out-of-office. As I’ve written before, you don’t have to go nuclear on working for a living.

The one thing we all agreed on is that pursuing the financial independence part of FIRE is almost a no-brainer, whatever your future aspirations. And we plan to chip in over 2020 (and beyond…) with more articles and insights on Monevator as to how to best achieve it.

Happy new decade!

From Monevator

Debating FIRE: The believer vs the sceptic vs the drop-out (Round 1) – Monevator

The struggle for the soul of FIRE (Round 2) – Monevator

The elephant’s revenge (Round 3) – Monevator

Breathing FIRE (Round 4) – Monevator

The final conflagration (Round 5, including poll!) – Monevator

Also check out the excellent comment thread from readers – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

Living standards grow at slowest rate since World War 2 [Search result]FT

UK house prices enjoy a December bounce – ThisIsMoney

Click to enlarge

2019 joins JP Morgan’s asset class quilt of annual returns – Nate Geraci via Twitter

Products and services

Will ‘marriage-lite’ civil partnerships for all really protect couples’ cash? – ThisIsMoney

Making a will: 10 things you should know [Search result]FT

HSBC’s £175 bank account switch bribe is back – ThisIsMoney

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter

Will savings rates continue to fall in 2020? – ThisIsMoney

Homes for renovation projects [Gallery]Guardian

(Anti) forecasting mini-special

The psychology of prediction – Morgan Housel

No asterisks – The Reformed Broker

Will UK house prices rise or fall this year? – BBC

Forecasting follies 2020 – Above the Market

10 things that will happen in the next decade – Klement on Investing

About those Wall Street forecasts – Crossing Wall Street

Comment and opinion

Five lessons from ‘The Witch of Wall Street’ – Morningstar

Return on investment [Spending on experiences]Humble Dollar

Let the roaring 2020s begin – Mr Money Mustache

“I’ve sold my house, and now I’m down over £500,000”FireVLondon

Tourist prices – indeedably

I used to be silly with money, but with Hare Krishna I’ve learned self-control – Guardian

Passive guru Allan Roth gives ESG funds the cold-shoulder… – Allan Roth

…while Robin Powell says that at the least ESG fans should keep costs low – Humble Dollar

Negative interest rates aren’t such a departure, after all – Bloomberg

The death of [US] stock brokerage fees was 50 years in the making – Yahoo Finance

The simple explanation for the under-performance of value investing – Evidence-based Investor

Naughty corner: Active antics

The active future for asset owners – Alliance Bernstein

How tortoises can compete with hares – Morningstar

Five behavioural resolutions for investors in 2020 – Behavioural Investment

Asset classes and their fundamental drivers [Read through for a cool graphic]CFA Institute

Brexit, politics, blah

Dominic Cummings is hiring and I admit it’s one of the most appealing job adverts I’ve ever read – Dominic Cumming’s blog

Kindle book bargains

Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – £1.99 on Kindle

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein – £1.99 on Kindle

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Coolest things learned in 2019 – Dave Perell

Ten reasons to cheer the progress of the last decade – Reasons to be Cheerful [h/t Abnormal Returns]

Vogue Italia drops photoshoots from January issue in green statement – Guardian

And finally…

“My own experiences in the business world suggest that an ethical approach, far from being a potential barrier to profits, is actually the secret to success.”
– Julian Richer, The Ethical Capitalist

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

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