Cut the Period You Reach FIRE in Half, Book Review

I have never read a book from cover to cover before I turned 21 years.

But reading since then has change my life radical. Being able to learn from the best minds in this world is something I love. A book can be distilled knowledge from people who have researched a topic their entire life. And I’m able to learn that in 5-10 hours by reading their books.

I still find that astonishing.

This article will be a review of the book:

Life Cycle Investing: A New, Safe, and Audacious Way to Improve the Performance of Your Retirement Portfolio

Why this book?

Because it have made a huge difference on how I approach my investing. And it has been the reason why I might cut the period I reach FIRE in half the time.

If we just research a little about how to achieve financial independence. We learn that it is wise to buy stock index funds, in order to diversify. And if we want to diversify further, we can add bonds into the mix.

Now we have chosen our assets.

Is there another we can diversify aswell? YES!

We can diversify on time.

The stock market can be extremely volatile in single year. It can go 50 % up, but it can all so go 50 % down. If we start to look on longer time periods, like 5, 10, 15 or 30 + years, the stock market will become less and less volatile.

If we know that we want a million dollars to declare us self financially independent. With an allocation on stocks and bonds of 80 % stocks (800.000 $) and 20 % bonds (200.000 $). It would be way more ideal if would could loan the money upfront as young. And pay of the loan till the day we retire.

If a +50 % stock market crash happens early in our life, it wouldn’t be that catastrophic, because we will have time to rebounce. But if it happens when we are +50 years old. Then we are fucked.

When we are young, we don’t have that much money. So how can we get harder exposure to the stock market as young?

By leveraging.

The authors of Lifecycle Investing tested a leveraged strategy against a normal target date fund. This is where you pick a retirement date, and then the stock allocation ramp down from a 90 % stock allocation to 50 % when we retire. And they tested it against a fixed stock portfolio of 75 % stocks and 25 % bonds.

They tested it with different stocks and bond allocations to see if there was different scenarios where the traditional way would be better. With a stock allocation 200 % – 83 % (moving from a 200 % to 83 % stock allocation in retirement) we will have the same worst output as a 75 % stocks / 25 % bonds, but a median return there is 63 % higher, and in the 90th percentile it will be almost 100 % bigger returns. 

There are many more different allocations in the book.

But the biggest takeaway is even if we are really conservative about your retirement. It can still make sense to leverage early on.

Then the allocation would be like 200 % stocks moving to a 32 % stocks, and the rest would be bonds. By doing so we are likely to end up with 22 % more, than a traditional conservative allocation of 50 % stocks and 50 % bonds.

Lifecycle Investing will appeal to you, if you have bought into the idea of index investing to become financial independent, and want to take it a step further.

The worst enemy with this strategy will be our own psychology. When shit hits the fan, we need to stay calm, and follow our plan. And not everybody can handle that with a 200 % leveraged portfolio.

But if we think we handle the rollercoaster ride, we can diversify with time by leveraging as young. And reach our FIRE number earlier.