Notes on retirement


In the video, “7 Practical Ways To Rewire Your Brain (Based On Science)”, the guy says, “We’re set up for failure, because we think we’re going north but we’re going south. That’s why fifty percent of people who get married divorce; eighty percent of businesses fail; that’s why thirty percent of Americans are on some kind of anti-depressant medication; that’s why sixty, seventy percent of people are overweight.”

Also: If your goal is north, but your compass is set to south without you being aware of it, you can work as hard as you want, you can optimise your efforts as much as any good book says you should, but you would walk 40,000 miles to finally reach the back of your goal, while from the start you only needed to walk a few hundred miles.

He also says – I don’t know if it’s true – that the average American has saved only about $60,000 [NT$1.8 million in January 2019] by the time they’re sixty years old.

I wanted to confirm this last point, which led me to the following: An estimated 38 million households in America live hand to mouth – which means they have no money left by the time the next pay check comes in. Two-thirds of these households apparently have a median income of $41,000, placing them just above the federal poverty level (for a four-person household). What’s worse is that three-quarters of Latino and African-American households have saved less than $10,000 by the time they retire, and nearly two-thirds of these households reach retirement age with no money saved for the future.

According to an analysis of the US Government Accountability Office median retirement savings for Americans in the 55-64 age group are about $107,000 (NT$3.3 million in January 2019). In comparison, the savings in all retirement accounts of the so-called Generation X are about $32,000-$71,000 [NT$1 million-NT$2.2 million]. (Remember, all it means if you fall in this median range is that you are in the same boat as many other people – but it’s not to say it’s a good boat.)

The guy in the video also says most people will eventually get what they want – using books and guides and experience that will help them adjust their compass, just about forty years after they hoped they would (my version of what he says – he speaks in a somewhat convoluted way).


I read books like Jim Rickards’ The Road to Ruin, and I watch videos like Mike Maloney’s “Top 10 Reasons I Buy Gold and Silver”.

One wonders what you would do if what some people predict may happen, actually ends up happening: the stock exchanges close until further notice, paper money loses its value, and the economy more or less collapses.

Of course, it is suggested that you buy gold, and silver, and other precious metals, especially in easy-to-convert formats – seeing that you may need to exchange a gold or silver coin for some crates of vegetables and fruits.

But what if you aren’t able to spend a few million Taiwan dollars, or a few million rand on precious metals?

Two ideas immediately emerge to improve my mood. The first is skills – things you can do for someone else, who will compensate you with something of value, that you can then use yourself or that you can exchange for a can of coffee or something. The second thing is that there will still be a market for thousands of products and services. People will still need to do things or get things done. There will still be a need to learn things, or to be entertained. Parents would still want to teach their children to read and write – and not everyone can do it themselves. Things will still break – and not everyone would know how to fix it themselves.

Of course, the two ideas flow neatly together. Every city or village will still be filled with thousands or millions of people with needs and desires, and there will still be people who will be able to provide for these needs and desires. And if you have skills or knowledge that will enable you to provide in these ever-active markets, your bag of gold and silver coins may last longer than you initially thought it would.

In short, the big economy may collapse, but a local economy is likely to continue, despite disruption, and despite changes in payment methods and in service and product delivery.


A fairly affluent and successful business man recently said in one of my classes that he didn’t want to get involved in a business he doesn’t know enough about, referring to friends of him who buy businesses or companies that have a good product but is considered to not be well managed. He added that for the same reason he did not invest in shares or mutual and index funds at all.

In a Radical Personal Finance podcast the host also said that he knew quite a few rich people who don’t invest in the stock market or in mutual funds or index funds, but only in “things with value”.

In The Death of Money, Jim Rickards says, “An allocation to gold of 10 to 20 percent of investable assets has much to commend it.” However, he adds: “An allocation above 20 percent is not recommended because gold is highly volatile and subject to manipulation, and there are other investable assets that perform the same wealth-preservation functions.” Other assets in which one can invest include works of art: “Fine art offers gold’s return profile in both inflation and deflation, without being subject to the manipulation that affects gold.” Even cash is a good investment because it gives the investor the option of turning to other investments at short notice. He also mentions that cash may not be the best investment after a major stock market disaster or collapse, but it can be of great value until the disaster appears on the horizon. “The challenge, of course,” Rickards reminds the reader, “is being attentive to the indications and warnings and making a timely transition to one of the alternatives already mentioned.”



Work out a retirement plan for now up to sixty.

Then make changes to the plan for the next decade of sixty to seventy as the world, the economy, and you and your partner undergo change.

Do the same again at seventy.

Make sure you keep two options in mind all the time: 1) You could still be making money up to your seventies, and 2) something could happen any day and you wouldn’t be able to actively generate any additional income.


Phase 1: Assets to provide security – property, insurance, gold and silver, cash for investments, other hard assets that can easily be converted into cash for other investments, some exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investments in yourself to ensure you can continue to generate income

Phase 2: More investments to provide more passive income

Phase 3: Assets, such as property, to provide security in retirement; health insurance; maximum investments for passive income; hard assets that can be converted from time to time into cash



Bill Bonner says in a YouTube video that one should also keep some cash in your home, in case there is a disruption in the networks, or if banks where your digital credit is being held have a problem. Valuable advice if you think about how many people are moving away these days from hard cash in favour of digital credit – credit and debit cards, EZ cards, iPass, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Line Pay, other forms of “money” on your phone. With what do you pay if the cellular networks crash, or if the bank that holds the credit is experiencing a problem, or if the company where the credit is held goes bankrupt or their network is hacked?


The fact is, one must have an investment portfolio for when the world, as you know it, ceases to exist, and in case it continues to exist in more or less the same way. The former would include gold and silver coins, and hard cash; a way to protect yourself and your family against physical threats including a weapon and ammunition, and things like bulletproof jackets; emergency food and water supplies, and/or a way to produce your own food and purify water … and the latter would include gold and silver, hard cash, other precious items with value that would increase over time, property, stocks in a variety of funds, some stake in small businesses, and a portfolio of life, accident, and health insurance.

* * *

I’ve never been anyone else, but I think most people have a mechanism in their minds that considers what “you” think, and then informs you that your most recent thought could be labelled as X, Y, or Z. That might frighten you for a moment, because you also received information from the environment in which you live, and from other people whose opinions matter to you, or from social and other media, that label X, Y, or Z as “bad”.

And then you come to a point in your life where it suddenly doesn’t matter so much that you might be labelled X, Y, or Z. One such example is the last note of this piece (11:09 on Tuesday, 22 January 2019), in which what I wrote could be seen as that I now sort under a group whose members are paranoid about the world – so-called survivalists, and that I too might now want to go sit on a farmhouse porch with a shotgun on my lap.

Truth is, my thinking is always in flow. I don’t endorse any person’s or any group’s ideology. I also don’t belong to any group, or movement. All I do is read, consider what I read and hear and see, and write what I think. If it looks like X, T7, or 3#4, then so be it. (Friday, 8 March 2019)