Getting Your FIRE Asset Allocation Right. Here’s Ours (Part 1)

What is the best way to divide up your investments among stocks, bonds, and other vehicles? Asset allocation is an essential yet confusing topic. That said, it is an area of critical importance when thinking about early retirement. This is because decisions made about asset allocation can have huge implications on portfolio performance, taxation, and ease of maintenance. Join us for this first episode in a two-part series, as Eric and Jason talk about their portfolios, the merits of simple vs. more complex strategies, the role of bonds, and the risks they considered along the way.

Note: This content does not constitute investment advice and is being presented for informational and educational purposes only.


Show Notes

Our asset allocations:

I do have a very small crypto stake but it’s well below 1% – Jason

The Bogleheads Wiki is an excellent place to begin one’s research on the potentially complicated topic of asset allocation. Named after and inspired by Vanguard founder, Jack Bogle, the Boglehead philosophy is focused on a “small number of simple investment principles that have been shown over time to produce risk-adjusted returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor”. Most commonly these employ so-called “lazy portfolios” of only a few diverse funds that are low cost, easily managed, and capture the performance of the entire market. The site also has an excellent discussion forum.

An Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is an important starting point for any portfolio. The IPS is a document that – according to the Bogleheads wiki: “defines general investment goals and objectives. It describes the strategies that will be used to meet these objectives and contains specific information on subjects such as asset allocation, risk tolerance, and liquidity requirements.” See the link for more information and a template you can use for your own portfolio.

M1 Pies (M1 Finance) are one of the visualizations Eric discussed to reference the investment approaches of others in the personal finance community, like JL Collins and Paula Pant. These are M1 Finance’s flagship portfolio tool, allowing you to see the asset allocations of others and potentially invest in the same approaches.

Portfolio Visualizer is a site containing a variety of modeling tools, including the one linked here which allows one to backtest different portfolio asset allocations. While past results are not necessarily predictive of future returns, this approach does allow one to understand the merit + drawbacks of various asset allocations. One useful approach this enables is to compare the performance of your current portfolio vs. a variety of others of your construction.

“Our Retirement Investment Drawdown Strategy” (Retirement Manifesto) is a great article describing how Fritz employs the bucket strategy to build a retirement paycheck and manage his investment portfolio post-FIRE. This is just one element of our last episode – be sure to watch for helpful background – but is a great example of how one’s asset allocation very much informs how assets are drawn down in the de-cumulation phase of FIRE.

Preferred Stocks (Early Retirement Now) and associated funds, are one of the “hybrid” investment vehicles one could consider in a portfolio. In the linked article, Big ERN talks about how he invests in an ETF made up of preferred stock elements, which have features of both stocks and bonds.


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Have Enough to Retire (Early)? 10 Steps to Make Sure

Will you have enough to money to retire (early or otherwise)? Achieving financial independence requires many key elements to be in place and special consideration if you plan to retire early. You need a plan: what will you do? What will you spend? Where will it come from?

In this episode, Eric and Jason discuss a recent blog post by Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto where he discusses the “10 Steps to Make Sure You Have Enough Money to Retire”. We cover how we’ve been designing our “dream retirement”, how we track current expenses and project future spend, how Jason is drawing down assets and Eric’s evolving plan to use “the bucket strategy”, and much more.


Show Notes

10 Steps to Make Sure You Have Enough Money to Retire – This is The Retirement Manifesto blog post that inspired our episode. Be sure to visit Fritz’ website for this article, as well as all the associated tools we mentioned in the show. We also highly recommend his three-part series on The Bucket Strategy, which we referred to in the episode.

Social Security is an important aspect to consider in most US retirement income plans. This link will take you to calculators that you can use to estimate your retirement benefits. SSA Tools is another useful site, one in which where you can copy/paste your SSA.gov data and use “…clear interactive visuals that let the user investigate how different choices might affect their overall benefit.” It’s a really good tool for modeling different scenarios. Lastly, Open Social Security runs the math for each possible claiming age and reports which strategy is expected to provide the most total spendable dollars over your lifetime.

New Retirement.com – More and more people on Reddit seem to be discussing this comprehensive retirement planning suite. They have a very full-featured free offering as well as a modestly priced paid version (free trial here + $10 off if you choose to extend!) with a host of really nice features, as well as consulting services. There’s a very active Facebook community as well.

Financial Order of Operations (Money Guy Show) – is a really great resource that “outlines the 9 steps anyone can take to build wealth and reach financial abundance.” We recommend downloading a copy and having a look at the associated episodes on their YouTube channel too. This is an essential tool to ensure your personal financial habits are supporting your FIRE goals.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) – By our observation, there is no budgeting tool more widely discussed, nor with a user base so passionate than YNAB. If manual spreadsheets aren’t your thing, or you’ve struggled with budgeting, look no further. YNAB has a free 34-day trial and the subsequent annual fee readily pays for itself. (affiliate link – a free month for each of us if you sign up!)


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Healthcare is my Second Highest Cost in Early Retirement

Health insurance may not be top of mind in early retirement when you’re young and healthy, but it should be. In the US, healthcare costs are a significant line item in our budget. To help us decode what you need to know, we’ve invited a retirement benefits expert to answer our questions through the lens of those seeking financial independence and early retirement.

To protect against astronomical expenses resulting from unexpected medical issues it’s prudent to carry insurance and if you’re retiring before 65 (when Medicare kicks in) you’ll be responsible for covering those costs. What do you need to consider? What ARE the costs involved? What insurance shouldn’t you purchase? Are there other options for coverage? What about long term care insurance? These are just a few of the topics we cover in this hour-long episode.

Our sincere thanks to Amy Manning for sharing her time, knowledge and expertise with us!


Show Notes

In this episode we mentioned a number of useful resources primarily for US residents seeking healthcare that we’d like to share with you. Note that many apply whether you are on a FIRE path or traditional retirement age.

COBRA is an important bridge strategy for health insurance for many people in the US, just as it was for Jason. The linked page is a great starting point and points to a variety of other sources that you will find helpful. Please note that some states have additional information available, and may even have further extension coverage offered beyond the federal requirements. As one tip – the best time to research COBRA is before leaving your employer. Your HR benefits partner or healthcare plan administrator is an ideal starting point to gather more information about your company’s plan and coverage options.

Healthcare.gov is the best starting point when it comes to information about Affordable care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) plans. In many cases, you will be directed to a state-run plan with its own website, but this is not always the case. Presently, a number of states have federally-run, state-federal partnership, or federally-supported plans. Where there isn’t a state exchange, you’ll see options and apply for coverage directly from healthcare.gov.

ACA plan subsidies are a topic worth a deeper dive than our time allowed in this episode. Many on a FIRE path plan on having incomes well within the limits where cost-reducing subsidies apply. Typically, as long as your household income is below 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL), these apply. When you investigate ACA coverage options, information will be provided on your eligibility for these based on the income information you supply. Importantly, in 2021 and 2022, provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) legislation made further improvements to eligibility, eliminating so-called “subsidy cliffs”.

Healthcare Sharing Ministries (HSMs) are an option of interest to many. However, neither of us are experts on the topic. We’ve looked into HSMs and decided they weren’t for us, as they’re not bound by the same requirements as true insurance plans. That said, this page seems to be a reasonable starting point for high level information on a number of options available. If you have interest in these plans, be sure to dig deeper. Many user stories are available online via Reddit and other sources. For information on the potential downsides of HSMs, we found this recent John Oliver segment very eye-opening. Caveat emptor, friends.

GoodRx and RxSaver are convenient tools to find out where you can get your prescriptions filled for the lowest cost via coupon discounts. A related tip for diagnostic testing + labwork is that for many insurance companies, it’s easy to use their website to confirm your options for in-network testing. Don’t be surprised by higher bills that come from using labs that are out-of-network! A few minutes of work is well worth it to ensure you’re getting the lowest cost options available to you.

Medicare.gov should be your starting point for researching healthcare coverage options for US retirees once they reach 65 years of age. It’s never too early to understand what this will look like for you even though it may seem far in the future. If you’re new to the topic, easy to digest summary information is available on this page. As you develop your retirement budget, this site will be a useful source of information to estimate those future costs.


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

How We Travel: Pre + Post Financial Independence

A seven day vacation or 5 weeks of travel – which would you prefer? When you’re working towards financial independence, vacations are a time to set aside work and everyday chores. But they’re constrained by things you don’t often control: accrued vacation time, work and school schedules, business obligations, and holidays, to name a few. In this episode, Eric and Jason compare notes from their two respective sides of FI and their recent vacations: 7 days for Pre-FI Eric and 5 weeks for Post-FI Jason. See just how different is travel once you reach FI and the constraints have been removed.

For more information on Jason’s five-week trip, including the valuable lessons he and his family learned on their longest trip ever, check out his blog post: https://thenextphaseisnow.com/longest-vacation-of-my-life/


Show Notes

As we mentioned in the episode, one leg of Jason’s travels brought the Two Sides of FI together in the same place for the first time in several years, as he and Lorri visited Eric and Laura in Maine. Along with all the fun times we’d planned (and carried out!) for our few days together, we’d intended to film episodes with our spouses – which we did. Unfortunately, a few technical issues meant that we decided not to use that footage after all. However, we believe the two episodes we recorded later with our spouses (Part 1 and Part 2) turned out even better in terms of the quality of our conversations. If you haven’t seen these shows yet, please check them out. Two times Two Sides of FI is the only way to get the full picture!

Two times Two Sides of FI: Jason, Lorri, Eric and Laura
Dinner time in Maine: (back) Eric + Laura, (front) Lorri + Jason

For a closer look at some of our trip photos, check out these galleries:

Eric’s photos:


Jason’s photos:


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Retired Early and I Hated It : How NOT to FIRE, Part 2 (Post-FI/RE)

Imagine hitting your FI number, retiring early, and discovering you hate it? In this episode we discuss four examples of such an outcome: from quitting the perfect job and regretting it, to feelings of depression and lack of purpose. Some are unable to find motivation without financial incentives, while others realize they haven’t budgeted enough to do things they enjoy in life.

This is part 2 of our How NOT to FI/RE series. For part 1 and the PRE FI/RE examples, be sure to check out that video here: https://youtu.be/Jb438jvebd0


Show Notes

For Jason’s own thoughts, observations, and lessons learned in his first year of early retirement, check out this Two Sides of FI episode, as well as his blog post.

Are you on Reddit? Join us in the Two Sides of FI subreddit if you’d like to continue the conversation.

Full text of Reddit posts from the episode:

You can find information on the tools we mention in the episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site! To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

How NOT to FIRE – Part 1 (Pre-FI/RE)

How much do you really need to achieve financial independence? We decode the math On the path to financial independence, there are ample opportunities for mistakes and missteps. In today’s episode, we review stories from people who shared their FIRE experiences online in the hopes of educating others. Here we review five of these tales: incurring tragic losses due to trying to beat the market, losing 75% of your portfolio value due to sector investing, regretting aggressively saving at the expense of living your life, and resenting your partner who doesn’t have the same degree of FIRE ambitions as you do.


Show Notes

You can find information on the tools we mention in the episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site! To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

Full text of Reddit posts from the episode:

Answering Your Financial Independence Questions

You asked, we answered. Bringing the Two Sides of FI together to discuss changing withdrawal rates, Jason and Eric’s own FI numbers, redefining identity in early retirement, rental real estate, and more.

Want your question featured on an upcoming show? Drop a comment on the video or reach out on our contact page.


Show Notes

Given the diversity of topics and tools discussed in this episode, it was challenging to go into much depth on any one of them. We’ve shared more information below on several of these items so that you can get the full details on each.

  1. Our FIRE numbers: We only briefly touched on this topic in this episode, but we’ve actually done an in-depth two-part series in the past. “So, What’s Your FI Number? Sharing Ours Here” is the first, and addresses the question of how to determine how much you need to achieve financial independence. We decoded the math used to calculate our own FI targets, talked about the different flavors of FIRE, and shared where our numbers fall on the FIRE spectrum. The second part of this series, “Discussing our FI Numbers : Changing our Minds, Talking to Family”, goes a step further. There we talked about how our early FI goals and calculations underestimated today’s needs. We then went beyond the math of financial independence to discuss the psychological aspects, including important conversations we had along the way with family and friends.
  2. Modeling your FI plan’s success: In this episode we showed some examples of modeling using cFIREsim, one of our favorite tools for examining the likelihood of your assets lasting the duration of your retirement timeline. This is a commonly used and highly regarded tol among the FIRE community. Newretirement.com is another great site (with both free and subscription options) that provides similar functionality, while including more in depth planning options. Both can be found on the Tools section of our Resources page.
  3. Modeling rent vs. buy decisions: While this wasn’t a major topic in this show, it is a question that comes up often both pre-FIRE and when thinking about modeling housing costs post-FIRE. It’s easy to model scenarios using the Rent vs. Buy calculator at SmartAsset.com.

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

First Year of “Early Retirement” Lessons Learned

Retiring at 47 is early by any definition. In this episode, Jason reflects on his first year in early retirement after reaching his FI goal in 2020. Not everything went smoothly as you might expect. Learn what’s changed, what’s been better, what’s worse, and – importantly – has it lived up to his expectations? If you’re excited to reach this milestone but still harbor some reservations about crossing into “retirement”, Jason offers a grounded, thoughtful perspective on what to expect and how to prepare for such a life-altering transition.

Be sure to read Jason’s milestone post for additional thoughts and details not covered in the video.


Show Notes

Eric here, checking in with a little behind-the-scenes detail. If you’re a long-time viewer, you’ll have noticed we switched sides in the edit. The reason? I joked with Jason after we finished recording the original episode that his next “skill development task” was to learn Final Cut ProX and cut the episode together. He agreed, not knowing the depth and form my critical feedback would take nor the time and effort making changes would entail! The editing switch was a subtle “tell” that we switched roles. And, although I don’t think this marks a permanent shift in our roles for this project, it did give each of us a better perspective on the skills we bring to the collaboration.


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Talking with our Spouses About FIRE: 2 x Two Sides of FI (Parts 1 and 2)

Part 1:


Part 2:

Talking with a spouse or partner about FIRE isn’t always easy. In this two-part series, Eric + Jason bring their wives Laura + Lorri into the conversation to share their personal experiences. In part 1, they talk about getting onboard with FIRE, financial topics including budgeting and setting the FI number, as well as the emotional aspects of choosing the FIRE path. In part 2, they discuss how they share financial responsibilities, the importance of finding friend networks, talking to their children about FIRE, and their hopes for their post-FI lives.


Show Notes

After recording this episode, Jason realized just how right Lorri was regarding his (non-)efforts to make friends in their new town. That got him thinking about some of the events of the past year, leading him to write a blog post on the topic. We think it’s a good accompaniment to the conversation in these episodes and hope you enjoy it. Do you have any thoughts on making friends in a new town? Please share them in the comments!

A fun story for you (not so much fun for us!) – you may have seen the earlier picture of all four of us together, in one place. That, along with this episode’s thumbnail, was a real photo from Jason + Lorri’s visit to Eric + Laura’s house in Maine – not photoshopped! Naturally you’re wondering why this episode was recorded in our usual remote format vs. in person. Well…we did record two hours of content when we were all together in Maine. However, a few technical issues meant that we decided not to use that footage. It still exists and perhaps will take on a new life someday as outtakes or otherwise. We’re really happy with how this two-part series turned out despite it being in our usual remote format, and hope you enjoy it too!

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

Retiring Early – So Why Am I Worried?

Retiring early is a dream for many but the decision to leave the workplace early can impact us in ways we may not have predicted. In this episode, we discuss the first year of Jason’s early retirement and Eric shares his own concerns as he approaches FI. For many, work provides a sense of purpose and identity, as well as validation, utility, not to mention financial security. What happens when that no longer exists? What takes its place? How does it impact your personal relationships and your personal sense of accomplishment? Much of the discussion about financial independence, retire early (FIRE) focuses on saving and investing, in this conversation we unpack what it means to leave work behind and fully embrace this life-changing transition. Join us for this conversation about life after FI.


Show Notes

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.