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Weekend reading: Considerably richer than you

Weekend reading: Considerably richer than you post image

Good reads from around the Web.

Simon Lambert at ThisIsMoney has done a deep dive on the recent household income and wealth figures from the ONS, and there’s something in there for everyone – from Jeremy Corbyn to Hyacinth Bucket.

For instance, your household needs to generate £84,747 of annual so-called original income1 to be in the top-fifth in the UK.

Quite a figure, even in households with two earners, once you get away from London.

The median for the UK though is a less imposing £35,204. Perhaps that’s not a bad target for financial freedom? Remember it’ll need to go up at least with wage inflation.

Simon also reproduces an interesting graph showing what it takes to get into the top 1% in terms of total household wealth.

(The answer is a cool £2,872,600).

The ONS total household figures might ease your conscience or make you try harder, depending!

Again, median household wealth is a far more modest £225,100.

Pension wealth at 40% accounts for the largest proportion of the total. Property is second at just 35%. I presume this is due to the high net present value of all those final salary and public sector schemes out there among the oldies.

First among more equals

Simon notes that the ONS figures – when adjusted for benefits and taxes – suggest Britain is becoming less unequal in terms of income.

That’s true from what I’ve read elsewhere, but sadly it’s not due to a reversal in the income disparity as it’s popularly understood.

Average CEOs are still making far more than they should. And while the national living wage will help, I don’t think Britain’s lowest earners are making out like bandits.

No, it’s back to pensions again. The triple-lock for the state pension has transformed pensioners’ incomes in recent years.

It’s hard to begrudge pensioners escaping the poverty trap, but it’s worth remembering that they had at least a shot at owning their own homes and generating a nest egg over the past 40 years.

I wonder if even the most diligent of today’s youngest, poorest workers will get the same chances? If the robots don’t get them, then house prices will.

If all this has inspired you to run even harder in the rat race, ThisIsMoney has also compiled a list of the best paid jobs and biggest pay rises in 2016.

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: Fancy earning 8% with a celebrity endorsement? Yummy mummy favourite Kevin McLoud is getting into the mini-bond game, and looking to raise £3m to plough into his social and environmental housing business. The Guardian goes into the details, including the obvious risks.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.2

Passive investing

  • Nutmeg cuts fees for two-thirds of customers – Telegraph
  • Five ominous signs for the active management industry – Bloomberg

Active investing

  • Shareholders need to seize back control of corporate governance [Search result]FT
  • Richard Buxton on running a patient active fund – ThisIsMoney
  • Sterling slump beats the Black Wednesday slide – ThisIsMoney

A word from a broker

  • The best performing investment trusts of 2016 – TD Direct
  • Housebuilder Barratt is yielding 7.2%, but uncertainty looms – Hargreaves Lansdown

Other stuff worth reading

  • Six financial personality types – which are you? [Search result]FT
  • In two weeks the savings compensation limit rises to £85,000 – Telegraph
  • 10 ways to cut your tax bill – The Guardian
  • “Very unlikely” Providence mini-bond holders will get money back – Telegraph
  • Stop and acknowledge the role of luck in success – New York Times
  • 98% of Japanese adoptions are employers adopting staff – Business Insider
  • Becoming Warren Buffett [Trailer for new HBO documentary]YouTube

Book of the week: Kevin Kelly wrote New Rules for the New Economy a few years into the Web era in the 1990s. He was essentially right about everything coming down the Information Superhighway as we called it in those days, sucking on a bit of hay. The Inevitable now applies Kelly iteration to its logical conclusion to a bunch of other emerging technologies. He was interviewed a few days ago by The Art of Manliness.

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  1. Original income includes sources of earned income, such as wages, salaries and pensions, and unearned income, that is, income from investments. []
  2. 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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{ 44 comments… add one }
  • 1 Retirement Investing Today January 14, 2017, 12:39 pm

    “I wonder if even the most diligent of today’s youngest … workers will get the same chances?” No doubt our youngest are getting the rough end of the stick:
    – No defined benefit pensions but at the same time they are inadvertently partly paying for the grey haired that have them
    – Increasing state pension age
    – Our ‘gig’ and ‘zero hour contract’ society making even accruing pension wealth under a defined contribution scheme more difficult
    – Automation and maybe even AI further changing our jobs
    – Big student debts before they’ve even started living their lives
    – A dysfunctional housing market preventing access to security of tenure
    – Brexit possibly even restricting access to an easy means (still possible for the most driven) of ‘escape’

    I could so easily see how our young could fall into the no hope ‘victim mode’. For their sake I hope they don’t as I think they can still carve out a great quality of life if they put their minds to it and show some determination.

  • 2 Gregory January 14, 2017, 1:15 pm

    I hope we will read Lars’s new book this spring.

  • 3 Old_eyes January 14, 2017, 1:36 pm

    “I could so easily see how our young could fall into the no hope ‘victim mode’. For their sake I hope they don’t as I think they can still carve out a great quality of life if they put their minds to it and show some determination.”

    Possibly true, but they are now competing in a brutally Darwinian environment in which you need to be very smart, energetic, and very lucky. On the other hand those of us close to or beyond retirement age needed to be reasonably smart, reasonably smart and reasonably lucky.

    I had an uncle (now deceased), who wasn’t particularly bright or energetic, was in the insurance sector most of his life, took early retirement on great terms when an early wave of restructuring took out several layers of unproductive dead wood, and spent the rest of his life smug and privileged asserting that everything he had he had earned through hard work and fulminating against the idleness of the feckless youth that followed him.

    I look at my son, much smarter and trying much harder, who has not yet had the luck to really get started.

    Myself in the middle, pretty smart and pretty hardworking, but bloody lucky!

    We have to recognise that the world has changed, and ‘putting your mind to it’ and ‘showing determination’ are necessary but not sufficient. Unfortunately, our current Anglo-American political culture views financial failure as moral failure, and I fear that if we continue to lecture those younger than us, and fail to recognise the immense good fortune we had to be born at the right time, they will have they revenge.

  • 4 Gregory January 14, 2017, 1:37 pm
  • 5 Mr optimistic January 14, 2017, 1:53 pm

    Pension wealth 40% of total, property 35%. How are those averages calculated as the lower deciles will not have much of either. It would be interesting to see those percentages split out across the range. Broad averages don’t really give much real information in things like this.

    Noted the book link but it’s only a new edition. Any info on what’s been updated/added ?

  • 6 Gaz January 14, 2017, 1:56 pm

    Thanks to TI’s and The Rhino’s encouragement, I’ve tried to spend a bit of time this week setting up a spreadsheet to unitize my portfolio. I understand the basics, but I don’t know how to lay out the spreadsheet for when I need to buy ‘new units’ as I add money – does anyone have any good example spreadsheets I can look at? I’ve looked at a few online but they seem to use different methods, or don’t include ways to add transactions.

  • 7 Marine_Life January 14, 2017, 2:02 pm

    Accumulating wealth may be more difficult for the young but that’s almost entirely because they benefit from something previous generations did not have …..namely an extra 10-15 years of life expectancy. Given the choice between a big bag of cash and those extra years I know which I would choose.

    …its clearly not right that access to reasonably priced housing is so difficult but look at almost every other area of life (holidays, leisure etc.) and choice has increased many fold.

    So i think we need to ask alongside the pure financial whether quality of life is what it should be? The facts suggest yes:


  • 8 FI Warrior January 14, 2017, 2:10 pm

    I have a young relative in Sydney who tells me that those who are courageous of the betrayed Brit youth are voting with their feet seriously now, pitching up there in large numbers to join a previous wave of EuroMed and Irish youth from a few years before who already had a similar ultimatum put to them.

    I personally know a girl from a middle-class, farming family with 4 kids who grew up near me and they were very comfortably off; she was the brightest and best of the crop and became a medical doctor. She was educated at great expense in the UK for this, but will never come back from Oz because her lifestyle and opportunities there are simply incomparable. While the NHS is sabotaged to death for reasons of Neoliberal ideology.

    Her siblings languish with no future on their parents’ land, having chosen to stay; their lot a descent into genteel poverty. The ugly truth is to move and suffer the associated pain, or to give up and be the child of a lesser god.

  • 9 Mr optimistic January 14, 2017, 2:11 pm

    In terms of total value, don’t you just calculate the current price of a unit and divide your new funding by that and increment your holding to the new total of units? Not sure I see the merit of that approach however as I am personally more interested in how individual lines are doing. The other issue, as I see it, is that if I added the new funds in anything other than matching the current distribution of investments, I am changing the profile of a unit. No doubt a grown up will be along soon to clarify!

  • 10 hosimpson January 14, 2017, 3:01 pm

    Lars Kroijer is right about the accumulation of small savings. Although for those wanting to retire early, quitting smoking does not necessarily reduce the number of years you have to work. You end up living longer and hence need a larger pot of savings to finance your retirement 😉

  • 11 Sara January 14, 2017, 3:42 pm

    Um – but none of those youngsters would be around if not for the oldies!
    Don’t believe it’s cheap to bring them up either – too many gadgets and birthday parties required.

  • 12 Learner January 14, 2017, 3:50 pm

    Hmm, I’d have expected that chart to show more negative values.

    “Net property wealth – any property owned minus the mortgage
    Net financial wealth – everything you have in the bank, savings and investments, minus any debts”

    It seems they subtracted debt (mortgage, student loan) but chopped it at zero. Would be interesting to see assets above the chart and debt below it, for a complete view.

  • 13 Mathmo January 14, 2017, 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the links this week. TI. I must say in the cold grey lights of the new year, nothing really grabbed me hard and inspired me this week.

    I liked the averaging down article and it helps to pass the time sitting on this cash pile waiting for the crash. I enjoyed the frozen in cash article too, in an uncomfortable familiar kind of way. But still leaves time for a little maths — and since that’s my thing, why not?

    If the median income is 35,204 and that’s to be used as a target for FI, I guess you get to knock the state pension off (let’s assume it still exists) — a pair of those is 15,434 — nearly half of that covered, then. Just leaving 19770 to withdraw safely — and failing anything else let’s reach for 4% on that — 494k. So half a mill to get you to median income. Should you find yourself 20 years from retirement, that’s — (rule of thumb 7% doubles twice in 20 years) 125k you need in your portfolio right now. I’ve not inflated the pension or median income over those 20 years, so call it 180k for good housekeeping.

    Is it enough? I’m not sure if implied rent is included in that income figure — I guess not — but life is better if you don’t pay rent out of that income. Same for taxes. I jolly well hope to spend more than the median income (and not on rent or taxation to the greatest extent possible) and I know that where I fail in this aspiration, Mrs Mathmo will step in to spend the rest. Is it enough?

    Without considerably stricter household budgeting measures, I can’t help wondering if the time that I’m saving by being a passive (if tilty) investor would be best spent by tending my frugalista roots, or at least doing a better job of counting the pennies.

    How does anyone else do household expenditure? Keeping receipts in a big book feels far too utterly boring to me, and a lot like a day job. It all strikes me as much harder when you have some cash than when you don’t: for if you do have the required 180k in the portfolio, “Can we afford it” is a trickier question to answer than when you don’t (and is, I suspect, the core reason why many people don’t become rich outside of their untouchable pension and house assets.).

  • 14 James January 14, 2017, 4:50 pm

    Not good reading for the under 30s like me. 75% of household wealth of the older generations has been essentially unearnt, namely that they never paid anything like the current value for their properties and never paid anything like the true value for their pensions. We need national insurance for over 65, CGT/inheritance tax on residential property at death and no cap on care home fees……

  • 15 Simon L January 14, 2017, 5:27 pm

    The Investor, Thanks for the spotlight in the weekend reading. An honour indeed.

  • 16 Richard January 14, 2017, 6:27 pm

    On the income side of things, I would hazard a guess that the original income to be in the top 5th does not go anywhere near as far as the original income to be in the top 5th lifestyle wise even 10 years ago. Some may be due to redistribution through taxation but a lot will be due to the increase cost of living and wage stagnation, esp in the SE. Inequality (generally) is getting better, but I bet most people are still worse off than they were 10 or 20 years ago (except the CEOs).

    I am also guessing it misses out on employer pension contributions (and maybe salary sacrifice amounts), which again I bet even 10 years ago where much higher than today. I think 6% is average employer contribution in DC scheme whereas I would guess it is more like the equivalent of 15% or so in average DB scheme 10 years ago – it was in mine when I calculated it (though that number shoots up if you join a scheme late in life). How many employers boosted their employee salaries to reflect this difference when they dissolved the scheme?

    All this means less money to invest (either due to not getting the money in the first place, not having much spare after essentials or sky high asset prices) which creates wealth inequality, mainly seen across the generations.

  • 17 Jaygti January 14, 2017, 7:11 pm

    Let’s not not forget that an awful lot of the hard pressed younger generations will in due course inherit their parents ill gotten property gains. (Unless the care home get their hand on it first).

  • 18 Richard January 14, 2017, 7:28 pm

    I would expect they will at best inherit the property wealth, not the pension wealth as much of that will be spent. The current youngsters will probably be in their 50s or 60s anyway before they inherit – maybe it will skip down a generation to their 20 year old children?

  • 19 cttw January 15, 2017, 10:12 am

    @mathmo. I’ve kept an annual budget (and balance sheet) since I started uni in 1986, I’ve just completed this years which is I think the 31st consecutive one. It started off by hand in a Filofax and switched to a spreadsheet around the year 2000. I can’t remember how I did it when I started but now I just collate the info from my on line credit card statements and bank account, I would guess it amounts to maybe 5 or 6 hours work for the whole year. I don’t need to nail it down to the nearest penny or categorise every item.
    It’s quite interesting looking back how your expenditure/income/wealth have changed, but I cannot perceive any relation between wealth/income and happiness – I started potless and now I’m relatively well off – but I’ve always been a miserable git.
    Is the £35k figure gross or net? If it’s gross then I don’t think that is high enough for the London area.

  • 20 FIREin' London January 15, 2017, 10:21 am

    Hi TI,

    Great to read through – and have to say I saw the article on the wealth side and did some digging into that earlier. It is scary how much is needed to get up into the 1%, and even the middle of the range thats some serious savings to get working to achieve it. I have to say I would hate to be trying to get on the property ladder here in the UK now, however the advantages of renting are often underplayed:
    – no repair bills – the landlord has to sort that out (and you can negotiate reductions if they dont fix it promptly)
    – Flexibility. Probably not as major here in the UK as say the US, but you could easily move from one side of London to the other for another job – not something you can do easily if you have purchased
    Don’t get me wrong – personally I am glad I am on the property ladder. How many of the elderly with property wealth know used to go out for meals every week, or a coffee each day (I know my parents never bought coffee out, made sandwiches to take on a long journey rather than use a motorway service station) etc.

  • 21 Uncertain January 15, 2017, 2:03 pm

    ”She was educated at great expense in the UK for this, but will never come back from Oz because her lifestyle and opportunities there are simply incomparable. While the NHS is sabotaged to death for reasons of Neoliberal ideology.”

    Not wanting to comment on our NHS, but the brutal truth is that Doctors have been going to AUs and other such places for many many years and the weather/lifestyle is probably more of a factor than anything else.

  • 22 CollReg January 15, 2017, 3:41 pm

    Yes doctors have been emigrating for years, but Hunt’s manufactured war on junior doctors last year drove a significant increase. Perhaps most worryingly he broke the trust in the implicit contract of co-operation between the NHS’ leaders and its staff, thus undermining any sense of loyalty to the NHS. As a result where a few years ago it was not uncommon to spend a year or two out of a junior doctor’s training in the Antipodes, now juniors leave with little-to-no intention of ever returning.
    I don’t know any numbers to quantify the effect, but as of 2015 just 52% of junior doctors 2 years out of medical school were continuing on to specialty training to become consultants or GPs. In 2010 that number was 83%.

  • 23 FI Warrior January 15, 2017, 4:20 pm

    @Uncertain, I hadn’t wanted to include too much detail with that anecdote, so as not to hog space, but it has become relevant, so let me explain now to do it justice. The young woman in question had been inspired to go into medicine mainly because her own mother was a midwife for the NHS for most of her career and had great respect for the profession.

    Sadly, that changed as the institution was increasingly used as a political football and to escape mindless bureaucracy, being treated with casual contempt and needless stress, she moved to doing the same work as agency staff for twice the pay and more respect. The injustice of the system wore her out though and she left early, burned out by the cynicism, not because she was wealthy enough to, it was a matter of sanity.

    She still lives in the UK, so it wasn’t to go to a better place, it was pure demoralisation.

  • 24 Jaygti January 15, 2017, 6:09 pm

    The £35k is gross, and includes investment income as well.

  • 25 Rory January 15, 2017, 9:20 pm

    @TI I’m one of these young guys you’re talking about trying to following the footsteps of RIT, Ermine and ERE. I know for a fact I’m way ahead of my peers but sometimes I feel it’s just not enough.

    I see people making money so easily but for me it’s taken 4 years to cross the £100k barrier. Aged 27, hoping to retire at 40 but really hopeless. The hill is too steep to climb.

  • 26 Learner January 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    @FiL, I feel like the repairs benefit is more often overplayed – in my experience the landlord will do the minimum to keep the place habitable and that’s it. Repairs (say, cosmetic damage from previous tenants) and general upkeep are on the tenant. If you did manage to get a discount, it’ll just come back in the annual rent increase.

    The flexibility benefit is genuine, though the flip-side of that is lack of continuity when you need it, with kids for instance.

  • 27 FIREin' London January 16, 2017, 9:03 am

    @Rory – never give up! Even if you start only putting small amounts aside, at least you are saving something, although appreciate it can feel a huge uphill struggle

    A fair challenge, but I think it depends on your landlord – I have had the cr@p ones you mention as doing the minimum, but also had some really good ones who kept it in top notch, and got a cheaper rent because they knew we looked after the place.
    I have to say I wouldnt really want to be renting with kids – unless the start introducing say 5 or 10 year rental places maybe?

    Alternatively we need to build more homes, and start moving work out of London where possible to help reduce the squeeze…

    FIREin’ London

  • 28 zxspectrum48k January 16, 2017, 9:46 am

    I always find these income/wealth surveys interesting but I’m skeptical of the numbers. The wealth numbers, in particular, feel very low at the top-end. I find it very hard to believe that the top 1% only have £2.8mm+; I would be thinking the reality is 5x that number. Property wealth in London is vast but much is held via trusts or companies. It’s not clear these survey take into account wealth which is held in beneficiary terms.

  • 29 Alan January 16, 2017, 10:59 am

    With you there James.. do agree that national insurance should continue to be paid throughout life. Perhaps also a dedicated nhs tax

  • 30 Scott January 16, 2017, 12:32 pm

    @Alan – as National Insurance is a misnomer (it’s actually an employment tax) then I agree with your proposal to add it to conventional income tax, in order that folk continue to pay it after they cease working. Many retirees will be on low incomes, so it won’t make a difference to them, but for those who can afford it, then I don’t see why they should get a discount just because theyv’e stopped working. However, I think we’d also need to raise the threshold at which we start paying tax to help those retirees at the lower end, otherwise they’d suddenly lose a chunk of their income. If this is done, we should also consider the 2% NI rate paid by higher-rate earners, i.e. crossing the threshold from basic to higher rate tax currently results in a move from 20% + 12% to 40% + 2% tax. I’d be inclinded to levy the extra 10% on higher-rate taxpayers before I’d burden lowish income retirees.

  • 31 FI Warrior January 16, 2017, 4:02 pm

    @Rory – Try not to think of it as there being only one way of succeeding, you have to work out your own definitions. At your age I’d just bombed out of my first attempted career and felt devastated, I was back living with my parents, sh*t broke and with no idea what to do next. What I would tell that younger self now is ”Dude you still have time, your health and no debt, get up and fight on”

    I still made FI by 40 (by the 3rd try) but it was hard man, it involved sacrifice and discipline, for the vast majority that is the only way you’ll get it, so you have to ask yourself the question ”How badly do I want it?” Anything worth a damn in life doesn’t come easy for that same reason, the clue’s already in those words.

    The way I did it was only by understanding that the single most important point of living for me was freedom, so by my definition, I’m FI, but have nowhere near a millionaire lifestyle, it’s on an extremely modest model. (more Jacob from ERE) I feel like a king, I don’t even have a vehicle currently for example, but am totally and utterly free; if I see a good deal today, I can just hop on a plane and go away for a while; nobody to check with.

  • 32 The Austrian January 16, 2017, 7:36 pm

    @James. CGT/inheritance tax on residential property at death and no cap on care home fees……
    I agree in general, but think IHT (and the nil rate band) should just be scrapped, and CGT levied on all transfers of value, including main residence. I know from my professional life that (i) most people should be able to avoid IHT, through giving away value to the next generation or into trusts, companies, etc. So it only really impacts those who die unexpectedly young or who couldn’t / wouldn’t afford to sort it out…. and in those circs a 40% IHT rate seems pretty stiff.
    Plus (ii) many wealthy oldies just hold assets for life because there’s no CGT on death, rather than selling them and giving the money away or even investing in more productive assets, which must be bad overall for the economy; plus why, in any case, should your residential property attract special, weird tax treatment above any other asset? And why should you continue to get the State pension if you have over (say) £500k in assets, with the starting age going up and up? It’s meant to be a safety net, not a savings scheme, and lots of people who do actual, physical work just won’t make it to 70 or 75, while the likes of Philip Green and Tony Blair will probably be taking it when they’re 100-plus.

  • 33 Hariseldon January 16, 2017, 10:02 pm

    The comment of about good it was then and how tough it is now is mistaken. The outlook in 1974 for example was not good and it was many years before it got better..

    It’s a huge error to blindly assume the future is simply an extrapolation of today and the recent past, an optimistic outlook and you’re more than halfway there.

    @Rory. If you have crossed £100k in 4 years by 27, you’ll make FI by 40 easily, the process of growing wealth by investment is more exponential than linear.

  • 34 Rory January 16, 2017, 11:48 pm

    @FI Warrior Absolutely, health is so much more important than wealth. You can always earn the latter through hard work and perseverance but once you’ve lost health it’s usually permanent. Thanks for the kind words – it means a lot more from someone who’s been there done that. Your situation is my ultimate goal too – I’ll never live like a king based on simple maths but retiring at 40 and doing the things I enjoy without waking up to an alarm clock would be a miracle. FREEEEDOM 😀

    @Hariseldon All the wiser folk in the FI community have said that the first 100k is the hardest! I agree with you – instead of complaining we should master our own destiny. It’s just sometimes it feels like my steps are so small and insignificant towards the grand goal

  • 35 Chigs January 17, 2017, 12:15 am

    @Rory im 33 and consider myself as nearly financially free. i live in london in an affluent area (my own property, LTV around 45%), have a decent amount of liquid assets (around £500k). The main thing that got me there was not wasting the money on stupid stuff. i was lucky (although at times i feel unlucky given what i had to put up with!) to have fallen into the path of banking earning on average around £80-90k a year for 10 years. I had rent free accomodation before i bought a property, at my parents place.

    i would try to look at your spending as much as how much income you make. spending part is crucial. also to boost your income the only way is to gain new skills so maybe consider this as well. good luck

  • 36 The Rhino January 17, 2017, 12:54 am

    @Rory – One perfect heist is all it takes. Then disappear into the mist..

  • 37 The Investor January 18, 2017, 10:58 am

    On pensions for the young, remember that a lot of them are in auto-enrollment now. So I actually expect today’s 20-somethings might end up a bit better of than the *typical* member of the 35-50 year old cohort moving through the system now, from this particular perspective. (Obviously not from a property perspective!)

    Re: The opportunities for the young, as others have said there are always routes for those who put their mind to it. For instance emerging markets still look cheap. You could buy commodities companies for a song earlier this year. I suspect UK banks will eventually prove a good buy from here, too.

    Then in the real-world there will be business opportunities opened up by Brexit, and the inevitably self-inflicted dislocations.

    The individual level is not the same as the aggregate, of course. Without 2020 hindsight of what’s to come, it’s very hard to see looking at today’s situation how the young aren’t getting the rough end of the pineapple. Even for those lucky enough to look forward to getting a slab of inheritance in their 50s or 60s, well, I think most would rather get there on their own (and it’d likely be far better for UK productivity too than millions keeping one eye on an unearned windfall).

  • 38 John B January 18, 2017, 9:44 pm

    @Austrian the state pension is a saving scheme. Pension credit is the safety net. I don’t have a problem with NI being abandoned in favour of higher taxes and means tested benefits, but it would have to be introduced gradually to avoid being viewed as a politically unacceptable betrayal.

    Greater life expectancy is probably cost neutral, as it seems healthy, and hence working, lifespan is rising as fast as overall lifespan, hence the pension age changes planned.

    Within the 3 pillars of land/labour/capital, I suspect we’ve seen the big rises in land, it will now follow population growth more than household/dual income changes. Labour will be hit badly by automation, so the best thing to have is capital, so you can invest in the companies that drive growth, rather than hope to work for them.

    If you do invest in yourself through education, pick something a machine can’t do.

  • 39 The Rhino January 19, 2017, 11:57 am

    One of the tricks of FIRE is to understand how to be happy, what the personal cost of that is to you, and once that little lot is internalised become *genuinely* indifferent to the sort of analysis presented here.

    Easier said than done..

  • 40 The Rhino January 19, 2017, 2:37 pm

    @JB – “If you do invest in yourself through education, pick something a machine can’t do.”

    better still, educate yourself to be the person that develops the machines that steal everyone else’s jobs

    get on the right side of the robots..

  • 41 John B January 19, 2017, 3:50 pm

    The problem with machine/software developing skills is that they are just the kind of things machines themselves are good at. I don’t think we’ll approach the Singularity in my lifetime, but anyone planning a career needs to be nimble and keep orthogonal to robots.

  • 42 The Rhino January 19, 2017, 5:47 pm

    OMG – skynet! run for the hills..

  • 43 AAJ January 23, 2017, 6:06 pm

    Old_eyes: “brutally Darwinian environment in which you need to be very smart, energetic, and very lucky”

    I think you should put luck first. Most people fail to estimate how much luck pays a part. We often believe that someone gets where they are today by hard work. But the reality is that luck is the main player throughout your life.

    Personally, I was lucky to be born where I was and to the family I had. I was also lucky to inherit some decent DNA that makes me good at working in the job I have. I could say I worked hard at being good at stuff, but the reality is it is 99% a product of DNA and lucky with my environment in my early years. It was all luck.

  • 44 ivanopinion February 25, 2017, 2:29 pm

    I agree. 20 years ago I moved into working in what was then a little known discipline. It subsequently became a hot topic and I’ve been able to charge handsomely for consultancy/advice. I didn’t know it would become a hot topic; I moved into it because I found it interesting and I was good at it. Sure, I’ve worked hard and I’m smart, but without that luck my wealth would be half what it is.

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