Weekend Reading: False Proxies That Deceive Your Finances

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

There’s a reason you’re drawn to reading about “life hacks” for things that might otherwise take much more of your time and brain power. If you can obtain the same result for a fraction of the exertion, why not?


Beware rules of thumb: The problem with “proxies” (financial-related in particular) is that false ones can lead to misleading or inaccurate results. Here are some prime examples explored by author Jesse Cramer:

📌 Salary = wealth: While there is some correlation, wealth is also influenced by spending habits. As such, it’s important to consider both income and expenses when assessing wealth.

📌 Reliance on generic retirement savings goals: This could include the commonly mentioned "retirement number" – or four percent rule. In general, these can be misleading as they don't account for individual circumstances, such as other sources of income like Social Security or pensions, healthcare costs, market volatility and personal spending habits.

📌 Short-term success = long-term success: Studies show that short-term results are often influenced by luck rather than skill, making them a false proxy for long-term outcomes.

📌 Confidence = knowledge: It’s noted that confidence is inversely correlated with accuracy, and it's better to admit uncertainty and diversify investments rather than be overconfident.

📌 Complexity = superiority: There is no secret sauce for wealth. Often, simplicity is better, as it’s associated with lower costs and clearer understanding.

You know there is no silver bullet to a confident financial future. So ask yourself: Are there any false proxies you’re following that could be inhibiting the financially-independent life you deserve?