FAQ

Photo Credit: photosteve101 @ Flickr
Photo Credit: photosteve101 @ Flickr

We get a LOT of e-mails. And between our non-profit work, novel writing, hosting this blog, and travelling, it’s a bit challenging trying to get back to everyone quickly.

So before e-mailing us, feel free to take a look this FAQ:

Can I Do This With Kids?

Abso-freaking-lutely! I wrote about it here:

 

How Will You Survive a Stock Market Crash?

Good Question. In our case, since we’re both engineers who LOVE thinking about every single thing that could possibly go wrong, we put a lot of safety nets in place:

  • Set up our portfolio to generate a 3.5% dividend income, so that even 2008 happens again, we can live off the dividends and fixed income, without having to sell anything.
  • Use an index investing strategy (vetted by none other than Warren Buffet) so that our investment can never go to zero.
  • Include enough fixed-income assets (40%) in the portfolio (like bonds) to smooth out the ride during stock market crashes.
  • Hedge for Black Swan Events and Sequence of Returns Risk, by setting aside cash outside the portfolio to cover 3-5 years of living expenses
  • Hedge for inflation by include sufficient equities (60%) in the portfolio.
  • Have a backup plan to move to Southeast Asia or inexpensive towns in North America, where the cost of living is way below the yield of the portfolio.

Why do we do all this? Because, let’s be honest, life is full of risks. But the point of life is NOT to never take any risks. What kind of life would that be? The point of life is to take risks but have backup plans in place. Other retirees are optimistic that everything will work out just fine. We are optimistic too, but we also like to carry a few parachutes….just in case.

 

What About Inflation?

Historically the S&P 500 has returned 9-11% over the past 30 years. By using a conservative 3-4% safe withdrawal rate, we are already taking inflation into consideration.

As well, by including equities in the portfolio, we are taking inflation into account. As prices go up, companies charge more, and that profit goes back to shareholders, causing stock prices and dividends to increase. This is why equities are a natural hedge for inflation. In addition to equities, we also include Real Return Bonds in our porfolio, which adjusts to inflation.

Also, since we aren’t tied to a single location (since we’re not tied to a job), we can always pack up and move to inexpensive cities.

 

What is Your Portfolio Allocation?

60/40 (60 equities, 40 fixed income), split into the following buckets:

  • Fixed income:
    • 17% in a mix of government, corporate, real return and high-yield bonds.
    • 5% in REITs
    • 18% in Preferred Shares
  • Equities:
    • 12% Canadian equities
    • 21% US growth
    • 18% International
    • 4% alternative strategies
  • Cash:
    • 5% cash

Instead of individual stocks and bonds, we buy low-cost ETFs. This allows us to keep the management fees as low as possible, as well as use indexing to hedge against the failure of any individual stock or bond.

 

How Much Do I Need To Retire?

This depends on your flexibility and your expenses. Read the following articles to find out:

 

How Do I Get Started with Investing?

Since we get reader requests for it on a daily basis, we’ve put together a step-by-step workshop to show you how investing works. Click here to get started.

 

How Do I get Out of Debt?

Since Debt was named as the #1 Reader Obstacle, we wrote a series on how to murder your debt:

Murdering Your Student Debt

 

What Budgeting Tools Do You Use?

I mostly just use spreadsheets to track our daily expenses, but I understand how that might be challenging for busy readers. We are currently reviewing Personal Capital as a budgeting tool and will post a review/tutorial once we finish vetting it.

 

Can You Analyze/Help Me with My Situation?

If you were like us to analyze your situation, please click here.

 

We will continue to add to this FAQ as new questions come in. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered on the “Start Here” page or this FAQ, feel free to email it to us at:

firecracker.revolution@gmail.com

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