We’re Talking Millions!
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Paul Merriman, the coauthor of We’re Talking Millions! 12 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement, in October of 2019. He presented a discussion about 12 Million-Dollar Investment Decisions Every Investor Must Make and his Two Funds For Life investing strategy. The event was held at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was personable, thorough in his explanations, and generous with his time.
Paul and I spoke prior to the presentation and planned to meet and chat after the conclusion of the event. After the final questions and answers, I formally introduced myself and we walked to a nearby restaurant. We chatted about family, finances, and life for more than two hours.
The conversation was enlightening, easy, and entertaining. We share a passion for helping spread the message of Financial Independence and we talked about how we might be able to improve our messaging to be more effective.
Who is Paul Merriman?
Paul Merriman’s financial career started in the 1960s as a broker for a major Wall Street firm but he soon realized the many conflicts of interest and pivoted to helping small businesses raise venture capital. He began his own advisory firm in the early 1980s and quickly established himself as a high-profile financial educator and advisor on passive index fund investing, asset allocation, and both active and buy-and-hold investment strategies.
In 2012 Paul Merriman founded The Merriman Financial Education Foundation which believes “knowledge is power” and is dedicated to providing comprehensive financial education to investors at all stages of life, with information and tools to make informed decisions in their own best interest and successfully implement their retirement savings programs.
He has authored seven books including Financial Fitness Forever – 5 Steps To More Money, Less Risk, More Peace of Mind and 101 Investment Decisions Guaranteed to Change Your Financial Future. And if you frequent financial sites, you’ve likely read at least a few of his Marketwatch posts.
Paul Merriman and his esteemed colleague and writing partner Richard Buck have teamed up again to publish We’re Talking Millions! 12 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement.
Paul asked if I would read an advance copy and provide an honest review.
Of course I said yes. I’m honored.
12 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement
The intended audience for this book is young investors and the purpose of the book is to show how a few small intentional choices early in one’s investing career can pay huge dividends in the years ahead. It gives simple instructions on how to execute small steps with big payoffs every smart investor should take.
Paul sums up the heart of the book like this:
“Although I’ve spent a lot of time helping people with substantial amounts of money, I’ve always been concerned that not enough young people … perhaps like you … are on track to accumulate the money they will need to retire comfortably.”
You’ll get the biggest compounded bang for your buck if you are a member of the Gen Z or millennial generation. But, if you aren’t, don’t worry. You’ll find plenty of value here.
The First Half of We’re Talking Millions!
The 12 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement are:
- Save some money instead of spending it all.
- Start saving sooner instead of later.
- Invest your savings in stocks instead of bonds and cash.
- Invest in many stocks instead of only a few.
- Keep your expenses low.
- Choose index funds instead of actively managed funds.
- Include small-company stocks in your portfolio.
- Include value stocks in your portfolio.
- Don’t try to “time” the market or outwit it.
- Invest using dollar-cost-averaging instead of waiting for the right time to invest.
- Keep your taxes low.
- Do all this in one simple step: Invest in a target date retirement fund.
In this section, Merriman and Buck provide just enough information to justify and validate their recommendations, nothing more. There is little to no fluff, which I appreciate. They make their point and provide a concise but thorough explanation and move on to the next step.
Members of the Financial Independence community will find these concepts familiar. For someone who has just discovered the concept of Financial Independence or is in the process of establishing a solid foundation of financial literacy, this section is effective.
The Second Half of We’re Talking Millions!
The second half of the book provides additional information on the building blocks that support the 12 Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement listed in the first half.
This format works because we’ve already been given a framework. We can now place some “next-level” information.
In this section, descriptions of target-date funds, risk, and small-company value stocks set the reader up for the investment strategy Merriman has become famous for – the Two Funds For Life Strategy.
What is the Two Funds For Life Strategy?
The Two Funds For Life Strategy uses two funds, a target-date fund and a small-cap value fund. To execute this strategy, simply multiply your age by 1.5, and then put that percentage of your portfolio in an appropriate target-date fund. Put the remaining percentage into a small-cap value fund. Rebalance once per year.
For example, I am currently 43 years old. That means I would place 64.5% of my retirement investments into a target-date retirement fund and 35.5% into a small-cap value fund and then adjust those percentages again next year.
Simple vs not complicated
If you are comfortable with the fire-and-forget method of investing the majority, or all, of your cash into a total stock market index fund, your results will likely be just fine over a long period of time. But, the Two Funds For Life strategy is worth exploring.
Merriman and Buck make a compelling case that the 2 Funds for Life strategy may provide improved returns over time in exchange for only slightly more risk (than simply investing everything in a target-date fund) and only a few more financial management keystrokes per year. Simple enough if you decide to implement it.
The strategy is introduced and discussed in We’re Talking Millions! For more in-depth information and nuances of this strategy, check out the “2 Funds For Life” article from Merriman’s website.
The remainder of the book includes some special circumstance scenarios regarding 401(k) options, helping children set up investment accounts for long-term growth, and a glossary of terms.
The big takeaways from We’re Talking Millions!
If I were in my twenties or new to Financial Independence, I would gravitate to the first half of the book. I’d learn the concepts presented, and consider them in my financial planning.
I am not considered young and already have a solid grasp on investing basics. What I found most valuable were the insights on how to modify some of the recommendations. These modifications are based on where you are in relation to your planned retirement date. The sharing of research data and calculations are an added bonus.
What impresses me about Mr. Merriman
At the time of this article, Mr. Merriman just celebrated his 77th birthday. He draws on a half-century of experience in finance. He has been personally successful in business and investing and could spend his time relaxing, enjoying the spoils of his success – like many of us envision for ourselves when we reach retirement.
Yet, he continues to energize and educate with zeal with a passion showing no signs of waning.
I left that conversation in Charlotte, North Carolina having met a true gentleman.
I’ll be forever grateful for the time he spent with me that evening and even more grateful for the efforts he has given to support the successes of so many people over decades.
And if I haven’t made it clear, I do recommend checking out We’re Talking Millions! 12 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Retirement.
If you are a member of Generation X, Y, Z, or Baby Boomer, understanding these 12 concepts can have a big financial payoff – We’re Talking Millions! Paul Merriman and Richard Buck team up once again to educate and motivate.
How to get your copy of We’re Talking Millions!
As of the publication of this article, the book has yet to be officially released. It will soon be available for purchase on Amazon. If you would like a free copy of this book, Paul Merriman will make it accessible to those receiving his free newsletter. To get your name on the list, simply input your email in the green section at the top of www.paulmerriman.com and subscribe.
By David Q. Baughier of www.fiology.com