Archives For September 2009


September 29, 2009

I had to take down the other post because I made an error. I’ll fix it and have it back up in a bit. Sorry for the confusion.

Your Withdrawal Rate Matters

September 29, 2009

Longtime AFM readers will remember the simulated retirement portfolio I put together with exchange-traded funds. I have been tracking the portfolio since 2004, which was the first year that all the exchange-traded funds in the portfolio were available.

As you can see from the graphic below, the withdrawal amount can have a drastic affect on the portfolio’s value—especially in down years.

I assumed that the retirement account began 2004 with a balance of $1,000,000, invested like so (rebalanced annually to keep the same allocation):

All ETF Retirement Portfolio

I then ran two hypotheticals based on a 4% and 5% withdrawal rate to show how they impact the portfolio’s value over time (you can click on the graphic to see a larger version):

Portfolio Performance and Withdrawal Rates

The portfolio took a pretty big hit in 2008, losing 18% of its value. It has rebounded nicely so far in 2009 but is still well below its value at the end of 2007.

My advice is to stay flexible on your withdrawal rate. If you can afford to take a smaller withdrawal after a down year, then consider doing so.

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Kim Lavine’s The Mommy Manifesto: How to Use Our Power to Think Big, Break Limitations and Achieve Success* (see This Guy’s Thoughts on Kim Lavine’s “The Mommy Manifesto”).

While reading the book, I thought that the book was written by a woman for women, that it would be cool to get a woman’s perspective on the book and perhaps a review. So, I asked Beth, a long-time reader of this blog and a friend of mine, if she would read and review the book for me if I sent her a copy. She kindly agreed and below is her review.

Beth’s Review

As you read this review, keep in mind that I am somewhat biased as a professional, successful, single mom…

As I began this book, I was irritated and wasn’t even through the introduction yet! Lavine implies that today’s system is one that penalizes women twice: once for the fact that we are women and once for those of us who are moms. I disagree strongly with Lavine’s initial statements. She refers to a ‘new’ system that differs from the current one in that it will not compromise “our need to be great moms.” I don’t feel that the current state of mind compromises my responsibilities as a mom, nor do I think current business ideals limit me in any way – as a professional or as a mom.

Lavine refers to the corporate world as a ‘glass ceiling’ for women; constantly limiting us to what we can achieve professionally, economically and personally, while allowing us to see all that we are missing. Again, I must disagree with her. I believe that high dollar incomes, professional growth and development, and personal attributes are a direct result of hard work by any dedicated person, male or female.

She refers to many statistics that can be disturbing to some, but you have to wonder if she’s sharing her personal anger or if she’s trying to motivate us (women AND men) to stand up and make decisions for ourselves, without allowing corporate business ideals to take charge.

I will, however, promote Lavine’s book because, once you get through the first few chapters, she gives a positive and motivational perspective to the audience. You have to read between the lines at times to understand what Lavine is trying to say. I did gain some inspiration from the book and Lavine reminded me that, “…attitude is the only thing that separates the winners from the losers.” You must remain positive, stand for your beliefs and never compromise your dreams if you want to be truly successful in life – personally and professionally.

*Affiliate Link

FINALLY Got My Computer Back!

September 29, 2009

Last Wednesday night I was watching Seinfeld. Cramer said something and I wasn’t quite sure what he said so I went on the internet to look it up. I had previously bookmarked a website that contained scripts from all the Seinfeld episodes (yes, I’m a Seinfeld nut). Anyway, I was sitting there when all the sudden my computer went nuts. This little popup appeared and I must have accidentally opened it (it all happened so fast I’m not exactly sure what I did).

Whatever I did, unleashed a nasty, nasty virus that rendered my computer useless. My screen was blue with ominous red writing (full of misspelled words and horrible grammar), telling me that my computer was at risk. They then tried to get me to download some “anitvirus software.”

In an attempt to get rid of the virus…

I ran Spybot Search & Destroy…it didn’t work.

I ran Malwarebytes…it didn’t work.

I ran Windows Defender…it didn’t work.

I did a boot-level scan with Avast…IT DIDN’T WORK!


I even had my brother work on it for me. Apparently the virus unleashed different files that disabled various programs (Windows Update and Defender would not update properly). Internet Explorer was hijacked and every place I tried to go was redirected elsewhere.

It was very frustrating.

I finally decided to admit defeat and do a complete format/restore, which took my computer all the way back to the way it was when I bought it over three years ago. I have been reloading software this evening and hope to be back up and running tomorrow morning.

BOTTOM LINE: BE CAREFUL. There’s a lot of crap out there. DON’T CLICK ON ANYTHING—warnings or otherwise. Keep your software up-to-date (easier said than done).

I need your help…

Please email (JLP – at – me your favorite personal finance (or money-related) book of all time.

I’ll put a list together and post it next week. If you are a blogger, please include your blog’s URL along with a link to a book review you might have done on the book you are suggesting.

The Government Can

September 22, 2009

This has been out for awhile but I just saw it tonight. Pretty funny:

Follow AFM on Twitter

September 22, 2009

Okay, I’m not sure what Twitter is all about but I figured since nearly every other blogger has a Twitter badge, I had better get one too. So, as you can see on the upper right hand side of this page, there is a brand new fancyTwitter badge (or you can use the one in this post). If you are into Twitter, I’d love it if you followed AFM (

Thanks for reading…