While on Financial Samurai’s blog the other day, I realized that a poster named Rob Bennett consistently challenges what Sam has to say. My opinion of Financial Samurai is that about half the time he has something valuable to say and the other half he throws out arguments against conventional wisdom just to stir things up. Whether I agree with his opinions or not, I have to admit it’s a pretty effective way to gain readership.
Anyway, I’ve always liked what Rob had to say. He has well thought out opinions about everything he writes. He’s clearly a very intelligent guy. So I decided to click through to his blog (A Rich Life) to see what he writes about.
Turns out Rob is just a little crazy.
Rob has weeks of blog entries that are emails he’s exchanged with other bloggers. JD from Get Rich Slowly basically called him insane and made it pretty clear that he wants to never hear from Rob again. Mike from The Oblivious Investor has barred Rob from posting comments.
Anyone who pisses off the establishment piques my interest. Nothing ever worth accomplishing was ever achieved without bucking conventional thinking. I started reading more into Rob’s archives.
Rob is doing his best impression of Galileo or Bill Gates, except his cause is the withdrawal rate on retirement calculators. Rob’s thesis is that the standard 4% withdrawal rate is wrong, that retirees should be able to take out more. He goes on to state that every single retirement calculator is wrong and that “goons” are actively working to keep his message away from the masses that so desperately need to hear it.
What is the proper retirement withdrawal rate? Damned if I can figure it out after spending some time on Rob’s site. It has to do with the valuation of the market as a whole. If the market is at a frothy valuation, then the retiree can withdraw more. If it’s at a trough, they can withdraw less- at least I think. I like to think of myself as a reasonably astute guy when it comes to these sorts of things and I can barely make any headway on it.
(Rob, if you’re reading this, I welcome you to submit a guest post to better explain your method. But please keep it under 600 words. You get a little long-winded sometimes.)
Let’s face it, retirement withdrawal rates doesn’t even make for exciting discussion on a personal finance blog. I, along with what I’m assuming is most of you, are much more interested in the accumulation of wealth. My plan is to have so much of it when I retire that I have ample to give away to to my favorite charities and causes. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but reading about retirement withdrawal rates excites me as much as reading another post on the benefits of ING Direct or comparing credit cards.
I do have to give Rob credit for writing stuff that no one else is writing about. The last thing I want to do is turn this post into a call for everyone to pile on the insults towards the crazy guy. Maybe the problem is that Rob is so intelligent that what he says goes right over my head. Or, maybe he’s batshit insane. I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that the world of personal finance blogging needs more Rob Bennetts. He’s passionate. He’s intelligent. He’s writing things that go against the grain. I’d much rather read one of Rob’s posts than another piece on emergency funds or frugal ways to spend the summer. Keep on keeping on my crazy friend.