All about the book and its detailed contents
I hope you have the freedom to do as you choose, the time to devote to whatever turns you on, and all the happiness in the world! Yes, those are the ideal conditions for enjoying your own visit to Life Two, and you can guess that this is my excited way to say that the first parts of the companion book Freedom, Time, Happiness (for short, FTH) are now on the website, under the FTH tab. Let me tell you what’s there.
First, the Preface. I’ve always felt that a preface should tell you about the book’s contents and what the author had in mind as a goal, so that reading it should be enough to give you a pretty good idea of whether this is for you, or whether instead you should spend no further time on it. That’s my goal, anyway, and I hope you’ll decide in one direction or the other right away. (And if you decide it’s not for you, at least I’ve saved you some time!)
So I tell you the purpose of FTH, how it’s laid out, what sort of person I think it’ll appeal to, and how best to make use of it. (And enjoy it too, of course – but the prime goal is to fill in informative background, and entertainment is a bonus.) And a little bit of background about the characteristics that I’ve brought to its writing.
Typically you’d expect a Table of Contents. I go further. “Where the route takes us” is indeed a table of contents, with each stage given a number and a title. But in addition there’s a sentence or two describing what we’ll visit on each stage, because titles are necessarily short and may not therefore convey enough information to guide you. What I’ve done should give you, very quickly, a much better idea of whether this is a stage for which you’d like to board the hop-on-hop-off (or hoho) bus – because not every stage will appeal to everyone, that’s for sure, and that’s just fine. All of this in FTH is just additional background. The most fundamental stages have been taken and placed in Life Two, meant to be taken more slowly, at a walking pace rather than on a bus tour.
I was very surprised to discover, when I counted (hey, I’m a mathematician!), that there are 96 stages in all. Good heavens, no wonder it took me years to write them and arrange them in some sort of logical order and then identify cross-references and so on. Thank goodness that’s done! If you play with numbers yourself, you’ll already have calculated that removing 24 stages for Life Two leaves 72 stages for FTH, making it roughly three times the length of Life Two. There, aren’t you glad I divided the contents into two books!
Since I expect you to take the FTH stages one at a time and in any order you please, I know you’ll come across references to stages that you haven’t yet taken. So, you’ll ask yourself, what’s in that stage, what point does it lead me to, that I should be aware of while I’m taking the stage I’m on right now? It would be painful to force you to go to that referred-to stage and read it – it would be tedious and a distraction and an interruption to what you’re already doing. That’s where the list of Destinations comes in handy. Just turn to the Destinations, and look at the destination for the stage referred to. In a sentence or two, it’ll tell you where that stage gets to. Voila! That’s all you need to know – task accomplished – and you can continue with the stage you’re on.
In that sense, the list of Destinations is as much a part of the Table of Contents as is “Where the route takes us,” and that’s why I’m including both sections right away.
I hope this will whet your appetite for what follows.
I’ll add the Prologue, the four Routes and the Trail for Enthusiasts one blog post at a time, so that I can draw your attention to various notions. When I start (with the Prologue) I’ll also include the list of References, so that you’ll have them available right at the start of the tour, even though I’m guessing it’s highly unlikely that you’ll use the references. But since I’ve gathered much wisdom from others, think of the References as identifying the wise ones – and if you’re mad keen, you can even explore them.
I know that some of you look forward to quarterly summaries of what we’ve covered. I won’t go through the list, I’ll simply say that three posts in particular seemed to generate enough interest for many comments to be published: #74 on my reflections on being (and no longer being) an actuary (http://donezra.com/74-reflections-on-being-and-no-longer-being-an-actuary/ ), which was actually published the previous quarter; #77 on the Life Two book being published (http://donezra.com/77-the-life-two-book-has-been-published/ ) – and the FT Money article resulted in about 200 book sales and about the same number of new website readers, so many, many thanks to you; and #83 on “sequence of returns” risk in decumulation (http://donezra.com/83-sequence-of-returns-risk-in-decumulation/ ), which was a pleasant surprise because I wasn’t planning to write about it, but I came across instances of it in quick succession and thought it might be useful to explain it.
By the way, I referred to “comments to be published.” That’s because I tend to receive an even larger number of personal emails with comments, but I won’t publish a personal email – it’s sent to me rather than to the website, and I respect the privacy totally.
Preface, Where the route takes us, and the Destinations – your overview of FTH.
I have written about retirement planning before and some of that material also relates to topics or issues that are being discussed here. Where relevant I draw on material from three sources: The Retirement Plan Solution (co-authored with Bob Collie and Matt Smith, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), my foreword to Someday Rich (by Timothy Noonan and Matt Smith, also published by Wiley, 2012), and my occasional column The Art of Investment in the FT Money supplement of The Financial Times, published in the UK. I am grateful to the other authors and to The Financial Times for permission to use the material here.