headshot-oval-246x300Hi there and welcome to the #1 fastest growing personal finance blog for retirees!

I research topics like investing, tax, and Social Security and put my thoughts on this site. I started this website to write about ways retirees can make the most of their finances.

I’d like to invite you to sign up by putting your email in at the right or at the bottom of this page. My emails contain actionable advice or tools that guide you in optimizing your retirement income.

I’m also on Twitter @mattamiller and Facebook but usually use social media to simply broadcast. Best way to reach me is through email by signing up below or off to the right and reply to the intro email.

Investing Philosophy

value lineI write about personal finance and investing because I enjoy it. I’ve always been a finance nerd, even before I bought my first stock just after I turned 18 (14 shares of Home Depot at $34.18 a share). I studied The Value Line before you could find that much information on the web…remember those? Times certainly have changed over the past 20 years. And investing is no exception. We now have endless information at our finger tips, which is a great thing but can also work against investors. We have to be careful of the information we consume and understand that sometimes less is more.

I believe that investors need to follow a framework when allocating their hard-earned money. Protecting principle is the number one rule to investing and you can achieve it by diversifying your holdings across not only different sectors but different investment categories. Once you’ve figured out proper allocation based on your age, risk tolerance, and other factors, you have to figure out what to invest in (the hard part of investing). Lucky for you, there are free wealth tools available that can give you some great guidelines for investing.

My favorite free wealth tool, and one I recommend not only to soon-to-be retirees but across the age spectrum, is Personal Capital. Thisretirement planner free online software is the first step in understanding your finances. Yes, it does everything that Mint and Quicken do but more. The real value of this software is in the retirement planner and fee analyzer. After you sign up, link your accounts and run the Retirement Planner under Advisor Tools on the menu. You can change all the retirement assumptions like monthly expenses and one time expenses to further refine your retirement picture. See my review of Personal Capital for more information on this free tool.

Check out my Retirement Tools page for a list of the best resources for soon-to-be retirees. I think like a fiduciary when I pick these tools: they’re either completely free or provide so much value, you can’t afford not to use them.

My roots are in old-school value investing: Graham & Dodd, Warren & Munger. I enjoy picking up 50 cent dollars and value most companies based on EV:EBIT ratio. I have a core portfolio of stocks but also alternative and risk-free investments (barbell approach). Understanding that everyone looks smart in a bull market is important. In a market that’s approaching a CAPE of 30, it’s important to remember that Mr. Market could get depressed and it could happen at any moment. The way to guard against steep drops in the stock market is to recognize that there are plenty of other places to put capital to work.

You can put capital to work in debt instruments like corporate, municipal, or Treasury bonds. You can invest in real estate through a traditional rental, REITs, or new crowdfunded alternatives. I also trade oil and options with a small portion of my overall portfolio. You can see just how many different options you have. But that’s not the only thing you have to worry about. You also need to figure out which vehicle to use to achieve your objective.

Individual stocks, ETFs, index funds, mutual funds, target date funds – these are just some of the options you have. My core holdings are all in individual stocks, which act as the middle part of the barbell. I hold risk-free assets at one end of the barbell and alternative investments at the other. I feel as though, and it’s been proven too, that holding diverse investments is the best way to maximize return and minimize risk. As a retiree, you’ll need your portfolio to generate some type of income, or at least produce capital gains you can sell off when needed. My goal is to show you how to produce the highest investment income possible while minimizing your taxes.

Social Security

You don’t just rely on portfolio income in retirement. A big part of most retirees’ incomes is Social Security. You paid into the system your entire life and you should maximize the amount you get back. Strategies like file-and-suspend, a restricted option, are no longer available for most people. That doesn’t mean you can’t maximize your Social Security income. For most soon-to-be retirees, the question of what age to file Social Security is one that is the most complicated to answer. Over 40% of recipients file Social Security at 62, but if they waited until age 70, they’d get over 75% more money each month. Claiming decisions depend on about a dozen factors, some of which are qualitative and simply can’t be calculated.

Percentage of people who file by age:

SSA percentage of recipients by age

 Source: SSA

There are many online calculators and tools you can use to calculate your Social Security. One of the easier to use  tools is found on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website. This calculator pulls in data from the SSA’s website so it is always up to date. The limitation of this tool is the accuracy of earnings history.consumer financial protection bureauIt estimates your entire 35-year earning history based on your DOB and highest annual salary achieved. While this is great for ease of use and provides you with a good high-level view the difference in benefit amounts based on the year you file, it can  be overly simplistic. Once you input your DOB and highest annual salary achieved, go down to steps 2 and 3 for more questions to further refine your specific situation.

Non-Investing About Me

  • Two-time Iraq War Army Vet – 2004-2005 Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar; 2008-2009 Green Zone (IZ), Baghdad, Iraq
  • Father of two young kiddos.
  • Live in Towson, Maryland
  • Huge fan of behavioral economics

Contact Me For

  •  TV, radio, podcast, and website interviews. I’m happy to provide content that helps soon-to-be retirees make financial decisions.
  • Financial planning. I do not provide specific financial planning services but can help you find a rockstar personal financial planner.
  • Email: Sign up on the form below and reply to the welcome email. If you have specific requests, please update the subject line for a faster reply. Or email: matt at optimizeyourretirement dot com.
  • Guest Posting: Please don’t contact me for guest posting. Also, this website is not for sale.