What the experts say
The downsides of early retirement
Retiring at age 34 has been an enjoyable experience, but there are a few things I’d do differently, said Sam Dogen in CNBC.com. I quit my job with $3 million, generating roughly $80,000 in investment income per year. But one downside is that retiring early made me “excessively risk-averse,” and I’ve paid the price. If I’d waited, I might have had the “financial confidence to buy more real estate in 2012, right before prices began to take off.” My wife and I also waited to have a child. “In retrospect, I would have preferred to be a first-time parent in my early 30s,” and I missed out on my firm’s incredibly generous parental leave benefits—we had to pay $1,700 a month in health-care premiums on our own.
Eleven kids with an odd superpower
“The fate of the world’s largest exchange-traded fund rests on the health of a group of 20-somethings,” said Rachel Evans in Bloomberg.com. SPY, the first ETF in the U.S., was organized as a trust when it was established in 1993—an unusual structure that allowed its creators to set up “units” that traded much like shares in a company. However, an arcane rule required the trust fund to have a specified termination date. The founders chose to peg it to the life spans of 11 “ordinary kids” born between May 1990 and January 1993. As a result, “SPY as we know it will cease to be on Jan. 22, 2118, or 20 years ‘after the death of the last survivor of the 11 persons’—whichever occurs first.” At least eight of the 11 kids had ties to the American Stock Exchange, which structured the ETF, but none were aware of their role in investing history.
On ‘vacation,’ still at work
“Too often, employees are made to feel like there’s no good time for them to get away,” said Alison Green in Slate.com. This is ridiculous. “When paid vacation time is part of your benefits, letting some of it go unused is like taking money out of your paycheck and handing it back to your employer.” Still, some offices even expect people to “remain available” to work while they’re away. “Many states don’t require companies to pay out remaining vacation time when an employee leaves—making the time off that they earned truly use-it-or-lose-it.” Employers need to treat vacation time like any other compensation they owe employees. And employees “need to be better about insisting on taking the time off”—and I mean truly off.