Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

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AtlasShrugged?
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Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by AtlasShrugged? » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:58 am

Bogleheads...I make it a point to see weekend reading from Kitces. The linked article here provoked some thought.

https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/ ... ependence/

Personally, I cannot wait to get to level 15. :wink:

The article articulates 17 distinct levels in the spectrum from financial dependence to financial independence. I thought it was an interesting thought experiment. My guess is that the Bogleheads, on average, are high up this spectrum. Sadly, most people are not.

Where are you on this spectrum? For myself, I see myself at level 7. I have a long way to go.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Ron Scott » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:43 am

An alternative to Levels 14 and 15:

You spend a relatively low % of assets for living expenses, you can live with relatively low returns, and you will not need to sell equities at a low to fund living expenses. You are robust and either live consistently within Level 16 or float in and out of it.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by GoldStar » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:47 am

I don't agree that the levels defined are all distinct. Three of them are more about mindset than where you are on some spectrum. Author would have done better to bring down the number to more distinct levels that don't include mindset differences that can actually occur at different levels. So sorry but I am not playing. ;)

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Sconie » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:05 am

GoldStar wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:47 am
I don't agree that the levels defined are all distinct. Three of them are more about mindset than where you are on some spectrum. Author would have done better to bring down the number to more distinct levels that don't include mindset differences that can actually occur at different levels. So sorry but I am not playing. ;)
Yes----well said.

One of the problems with journalism----and seemingly, financial journalism in particular----is the need to regularly and continually publish articles, with the result that a lot of unnecessary and sometimes overly-complex "garbage" is churned-out-----versus the notion of keeping things simple and adhering to sound investing principles.
I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. - Alan Greenspan

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Daryl » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:11 am

Level 7: Retirement savings, education savings, and avoidance of consumer and auto debt. You still rely on bosses and customers, but you can foresee a time when your current savings will open up a new level of independence for you and your family. This is the most realistic goal for most people.
That seems like a really awesome place to be!

I'd put myself @ Level 9, although the article makes this seem more like an attitude available to the mass affluent than any particular level of assets. As a renter, the most expensive tangible asset I own is a Honda Civic. Unless something crazy happens, I'll join the "2 comma club" before selling my Civic.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by ge1 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:15 am

Somewhere between Level 13 and 14.

Agree with the comments that the article is somewhat inconsistent, but I still found it interesting. Thanks for posting.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Stormbringer » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:21 am

The problem with this list is that it tries to be a scale from 0 (panhandler) to 16 (wealthy philanthropist) but in between it's all over the place and people could be at multiple levels at the same time.

For example, you could be very wealthy on paper, but very also illiquid and cash-strapped, putting you down at level 5 or 6.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by heikejohn1 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:23 am

Between #11 & 12
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by thx1138 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:15 am

9 and 15 don’t belong on the “spectrum” as they are states of mind that should apply no matter what level you are at. They are key tenants of a fulfilling and successful life regardless of income or savings.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by GrowthSeeker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:57 am

Sconie wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:05 am
GoldStar wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:47 am
I don't agree that the levels defined are all distinct. Three of them are more about mindset than where you are on some spectrum. Author would have done better to bring down the number to more distinct levels that don't include mindset differences that can actually occur at different levels. So sorry but I am not playing. ;)
Yes----well said.

One of the problems with journalism----and seemingly, financial journalism in particular----is the need to regularly and continually publish articles, with the result that a lot of unnecessary and sometimes overly-complex "garbage" is churned-out-----versus the notion of keeping things simple and adhering to sound investing principles.
I agree totally.

The problem is, that that the author is modelling two dimensions but the scale only has one dimension. The two different concepts are (1) financial independence in dollar terms and (2) the psychological feeling of independence. The two are somewhat correlated so these two dimensions are not orthogonal. But then a more complicated method of categorizing these ideas might be of no significantly improved value.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:43 am

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (retirement planning).

I removed an off-topic comment. Please focus on your own situation.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:11 am

Interesting POV.
A "Boglehead Spectrum" would likely be different.

1. Dead broke, in debt, no income stream, no assets, negative net worth.

...........

14. Retired with 25X annual expenses.
15. #14 plus ?
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by nisiprius » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:11 am

Level 15: Independence lets you do and say what you please, unconcerned with other people disagreeing with you, since you don’t rely on the support or opportunities they could offer.
Kitces Morgan Housel really thinks that financial independence gives you the moral right to be boorish, arrogant, or unkind? And that being poor is the only reason to be courteous, humble, and kind? That's pretty crass.

We are dependent on many people in many ways, whether or not they happen to be paying us money.

(And if I sometimes am boorish, arrogant, or unkind in my forum postings, it's not because of my financial situation.)
Last edited by nisiprius on Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:36 am

nisiprius wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:11 am
Level 15: Independence lets you do and say what you please, unconcerned with other people disagreeing with you, since you don’t rely on the support or opportunities they could offer.
Kitces really thinks that financial independence gives you the moral right to be boorish, arrogant, or unkind? And that being poor is the only reason to be courteous, humble, and kind? That's pretty crass.

We are dependent on many people in many ways, whether or not they happen to be paying us money.

(And if I sometimes am boorish, arrogant, or unkind in my forum postings, it's not because of my financial situation.)
FYI: Kitces did not write this. Morgan Housel did.
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by nisiprius » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:31 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:36 am
FYI: Kitces did not write this. Morgan Housel did.
:oops: Thanks. Corrected.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by tarmangani » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 am

Level 99: you marry a tenured professor and provided you don't screw it up you basically have a lifetime pension.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:46 am

tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 am
Level 99: you marry a tenured professor and provided you don't screw it up you basically have a lifetime pension.
This is a common misconception. Few universities offer pensions beyond that provided to all state employees anymore, and these pensions aren't usually that attractive. Many university systems don't have any pension at all; only defined contribution plans are provided. I was given an irrevocable choice between the two when I was hired at my current institution, and I opted for the DC.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:48 am

Sconie wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:05 am
GoldStar wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:47 am
I don't agree that the levels defined are all distinct. Three of them are more about mindset than where you are on some spectrum. Author would have done better to bring down the number to more distinct levels that don't include mindset differences that can actually occur at different levels. So sorry but I am not playing. ;)
Yes----well said.

One of the problems with journalism----and seemingly, financial journalism in particular----is the need to regularly and continually publish articles, with the result that a lot of unnecessary and sometimes overly-complex "garbage" is churned-out-----versus the notion of keeping things simple and adhering to sound investing principles.
Right.

And Housel seems to show that he is NOT yet at one of those advanced levels, by publishing and republishing same/similar pieces, or re-organizing/relabeling them.

As an aside, since when is "not needing to be a peacock" (Level 9) a separate level WITHIN A SPECTRUM here?
People can be at just about any level here (above or below this "Level 9") and still feel the "need to display".

These "levels" are just silly, with most so-called "distinctions" being arbitrary, and IF read carefully, certainly not unique.

I would have expected better of someone like this (anyone like this, who purports to be a financial advisor and/or financial journalist), unless they are indeed still at the lowest levels of this same so-called "spectrum".

NOTE to OP: Might want to mention HOUSEL on the Title, not just Kitces, to avoid what would be obvious confusion.
(To edit that Title, go to your FIRST post in this thread, and you'll see a little pencil icon in the upper right corner, near the "quote" symbol. Edit the title and "submit", and all subsequent posts plus the main title will be changed.)

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by tarmangani » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:49 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:46 am
tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 am
Level 99: you marry a tenured professor and provided you don't screw it up you basically have a lifetime pension.
This is a common misconception. Few universities offer pensions beyond that provided to all state employees anymore, and these pensions aren't usually that attractive. Many university systems don't have any pension at all; only defined contribution plans are provided. I was given an irrevocable choice between the two when I was hired at my current institution, and I opted for the DC.
You took me too literally. My wife's university also offered a choice, and she chose the 401(a) because we don't want anything to do with an actual pension (Vanguard institutional funds, ftw). I meant, as a tenured professor, she's essentially guaranteed employment forever and since we share finances it's like she's simulating a pension. :)

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:55 am

tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:49 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:46 am
tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 am
Level 99: you marry a tenured professor and provided you don't screw it up you basically have a lifetime pension.
This is a common misconception. Few universities offer pensions beyond that provided to all state employees anymore, and these pensions aren't usually that attractive. Many university systems don't have any pension at all; only defined contribution plans are provided. I was given an irrevocable choice between the two when I was hired at my current institution, and I opted for the DC.
You took me too literally. My wife's university also offered a choice, and she chose the 401(a) because we don't want anything to do with an actual pension (Vanguard institutional funds, ftw). I meant, as a tenured professor, she's essentially guaranteed employment forever and since we share finances it's like she's simulating a pension. :)
:sharebeer

You must not have read this thread yet. :wink:
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by RatherBeSailing » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:06 pm

Sconie wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:05 am
One of the problems with journalism----and seemingly, financial journalism in particular----is the need to regularly and continually publish articles, with the result that a lot of unnecessary and sometimes overly-complex "garbage" is churned-out-----versus the notion of keeping things simple and adhering to sound investing principles.
+1. This has really plagued the "FIRE" (financially independent retire early" blogging movement.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by mariezzz » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:58 pm

I'd put myself at close to 11. I also agree with many of the comments people have made about the many levels. Levels 9 & 10 have never been relevant to me. They seem out of place.
tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:49 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:46 am
tarmangani wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 am
Level 99: you marry a tenured professor and provided you don't screw it up you basically have a lifetime pension.
This is a common misconception. Few universities offer pensions beyond that provided to all state employees anymore, and these pensions aren't usually that attractive. Many university systems don't have any pension at all; only defined contribution plans are provided. I was given an irrevocable choice between the two when I was hired at my current institution, and I opted for the DC.
You took me too literally. My wife's university also offered a choice, and she chose the 401(a) because we don't want anything to do with an actual pension (Vanguard institutional funds, ftw). I meant, as a tenured professor, she's essentially guaranteed employment forever and since we share finances it's like she's simulating a pension. :)
Still misconceptions here. I don't quite understand this statement: "she's essentially guaranteed employment forever and since we share finances it's like she's simulating a pension". It seems to imply that tenure somehow is like a golden parachute, but that's far from true.

Academics typically get paid less than they would in industry. That has obvious long-term financial implications.

It's not that they're trading less work for less pay. Most academics in tenure track positions average over 60 hours per week of work. The responsibilities of academics in the teaching realm and the research realm have greatly increased. They also have service responsibilities (university committees, everything that goes into running departments, and so on). Where teaching is concerned: classes are generally bigger, and students arrive at colleges with much weaker academic skills - which means faculty spend more time meeting with them and helping them. There's much greater pressure to publish than was the case even 20 years ago. [As an aside, scientific and academic journals are full of garbage that was published only because of the pressure to publish.] Additionally, many universities are pushing including many more undergraduates in research opportunities than ever was the case before. More faculty time gets devoted to this. All too often it's wasted - the vast majority of students don't take the opportunity seriously and even with those who do, little can be accomplished if they commit to just a quarter or a semester.

The so-called guarantees of tenure are much shakier than they used to be.
(1) Many smaller colleges are experiencing financial problems due to decreases in the size of the population going to college. There has been a good deal of down-sizing. Well-run colleges try to mitigate this by eliminating positions as faculty retire, but they're not all well-run. There can be a tendency of administrations to put their heads in the sand until they have a fiscal crisis on their hands. That opens the door to eliminating tenured faculty - if entire departments are dropped, that can be done even under AAUP guidelines. Lots of factors determine whether a college or university has to honor tenure, and there are ways for unscrupulous administrators to get around it.
(2) Over the last few decades, the percentage of tenured faculty has dropped precipitously. On average, well over half of the teaching staff (at any institution) are extremely poorly paid adjunct. If you compare based on FTEs, adjuncts are a much higher percentage than even 20-30 years ago. Adjuncts do this because (1) their identity is strongly linked to academia, to the point where they're making poor financial and career decisions as a result; and (2) they're hoping this will lead to a tenured position, but all too often, it doesn't. Some adjuncts don't even make minimum wage when all the time they put into a class is factored in. The Atlantic had a good article on adjuncts a few years ago.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reports that non-tenure-track positions of all types (part-time and full-time) now account for 76 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education. (AAUP, “Background Facts on Contingent Faculty.”
See also
By Birmingham’s own reckoning, only 17 percent of today’s college faculty are tenured. In 1969, almost 80 percent were tenured or in tenure-track positions. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Don-t ... red/239268

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:52 pm

Ron Scott wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:43 am
An alternative to Levels 14 and 15:

You spend a relatively low % of assets for living expenses, you can live with relatively low returns, and you will not need to sell equities at a low to fund living expenses. You are robust and either live consistently within Level 16 or float in and out of it.
Agree.

Another point the article seems to make is that some people have a hard time consistently spelling "dependence."

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by tarmangani » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:09 pm

mariezzz wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:58 pm

See also
By Birmingham’s own reckoning, only 17 percent of today’s college faculty are tenured. In 1969, almost 80 percent were tenured or in tenure-track positions. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Don-t ... red/239268
I'm not sure why you're ranting about the state of the academy, complaining that it's harder to find a tenure track job today than in the past, and in general griping that faculty/graduate students must publish or perish. I've got to say, you're playing the role of a blind peer reviewer quite well. I could quibble with your descriptions of the "industry" but I won't because none of them are even relevant to what I wrote, and that's because my wife already HAS tenure. She published and did not perish. If you're unhappy with the state of your profession that's on you. it's not as if you couldn't have known how difficult it was to secure tenure-track employment, especially in certain fields. That's been discussed for what must be decades by now.

Tenure is basically a forcefield except in very rare cases where, say, the faculty member does something unbelievably awful/illegal or the college closes shop. This is so well-documented that there's no point even debating it. Hell my wife works with someone who "commutes" from a major city in a public bus and misses more than half her classes. She literally had an undergraduate teaching her classes this semester because she had to leave early to catch the bus. No one bothers to do anything about it. Then there's the guy she works with who got tenure and immediately dropped off the face of the earth to work on his "research" aka his music career, that's been going on now for 4 years. Again no one does anything about it. I could go on, but I won't.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by GAAP » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:03 am

14 -- and while I've never had a problem with people disagreeing with me, that has had nothing to do with my financial status.

I could be a jerk/independent-thinker (perspectives vary) throughout my life.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by Texanbybirth » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:14 am

RatherBeSailing wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:06 pm
Sconie wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:05 am
One of the problems with journalism----and seemingly, financial journalism in particular----is the need to regularly and continually publish articles, with the result that a lot of unnecessary and sometimes overly-complex "garbage" is churned-out-----versus the notion of keeping things simple and adhering to sound investing principles.
+1. This has really plagued the "FIRE" (financially independent retire early" blogging movement.
Agree with both of you.
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, | Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. | None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: | His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:30 am

I guess I'm bouncing around in the 14 and 15 area.

Still "working for the man", but I don't really need to at this point.

I'm essentially working for a beach house now!
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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by JBTX » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:14 pm

I could be anywhere between 8 and 14. There is a lot of overlap.

#12 is just dumb.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by gasdoc » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:45 pm

13.5

gasdoc

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:31 pm

We're at 14 or at least almost there and still working to make sure I make it to 14 and maybe to 16. 15 isn't really a stop between 14 and 16. I agree with those saying 9 and 15 shouldn't be on the list.

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Re: Kitces link: The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence

Post by 2015 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:48 pm

Level 15 has allowed me to become measurably more effective at repelling people who do not add value to me. Life is so much better sitting down at the poker table with people I want to play with.

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