An updated FIRE recommended reading list (with a military twist)

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Moderator Emeritus
Dec 11, 2002
I've gone through this board's 80+ posts using the phrase "recommended reading" as well as the FAQs. The last time we really dug into the question seems to have been over three years ago: . But let me know if there's another list kicking around amidst the archives.

This draft pulls together most of the board's contributions plus BogleHeads and other items of interest to military veterans. Some of the citations are incomplete; I'm still tracking down website sources. There's no particular order or ranking. Feel free to add to it!

Military books
"Armed Forces Guide to Personal Financial Planning" by Margaret Belknap and Michael Marty. One of the best decision-making guides for military issues.
"The Military Advantage" by Chris Michel. Best benefits book.
"The $avvy $ailor" and "The $avvy Officer" by Ralph Nelson. Step-by-step explanations of avoiding debt, saving, and planning for a career of earnings & investments.

"Work Less, Live More" by Bob Clyatt
"The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement" by Billy & Akaisha Kaderli
"Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35" by Paul Terhorst
"Get A Life, You Don't Need A Million to Retire Well" by Ralph Warner
"How To Retire Early and Live Well" by Gillette Edmunds
"Rags to Retirement" by Alan Lavine
"What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement" by Richard. Bolles & John Nelson
"The Joy of Not Working" and "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie Zelinski
"Prime Time" and "Encore" by Marc Freedman
"Retiring as a Career: Making the Most of Your Retirement" by Betsy Kyte Newman

Frugality and saving:
"Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez
"The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn
"The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
"The Ultimate Cheapskate" by Jeff Yeager

"The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham
"The Four Pillars of Investing" and "The Intelligent Asset Allocator" by William Bernstein
"Triumph of the Optimists" by Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton
"Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes" by Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich
"The Retirement Savings Time Bomb" and "Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune" by Ed Slott
"Are You a Stock or a Bond?" by Moshe Milevsky
"A Random Walk Down Wall Street" by Burton Malkiel
"All About Asset Allocation" by Rick Ferri
"The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need" by Larry Swedroe
"Stocks for the Long Run" by Jeremy J. Siegel
"The Coffeehouse Investor" by Bill Schultheis
"The Boglehead's Guide to Investing" by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf
"Common Sense on Mutual Funds" and "The Little Book of Common Sense" by John Bogle
"J.K. Lasser's Your Winning Retirement Plan" by Henry "Bud" Hebeler

Military research papers
- "A Comparative Study of the Life Satisfaction of Early Retirement Military Officers", doctoral dissertation by Russ T. Graves, professor at Texas A&M College, 2005. Available online at A comparative study of the life satisfaction of early retirement military officers and etd-tamu-2005B-EPSY-Graves.pdf.
- "America's Military Population" by David R. and Mady Wechsler Segal, excerpted from the December 2004 issue of the Population Reference Bureau's Population Bulletin, Vol 59, No 4. Available online at
- DoD Statistical Report on the Military Retirement System:

- Reprinted study of 4% safe withdrawal rate ( Withdrawal Rates Using Histo.pdf): "Determining Withdrawal Rates Using Historical Data" by William P. Bengen, originally published in Journal of Financial Planning, vol. 7, no. 4 (October 1994), pp. 171-80. Reprinted with "Best Of" collection in 2004.
- The Trinity Study (
"Retirement Savings: Choosing a Withdrawal Rate That Is Sustainable" by Philip L. Cooley, Carl M. Hubbard and Daniel T. Walz, professors of finance in the Department of Business Administration, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas. Included in Scott Burns' column at News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Scott Burns: Columns 2006
- Asset allocation effect on portfolio (CFA: Error "Determinants of portfolio performance" Gary Brinson, Randolf Hood, Gilbert Beebower, Financial Analysis Journal, July-August 1986, pp.39-44.
- Strategic asset allocation for individual investors: the impact of the present value of Social Security benefits by Steve P. Fraser, William W. Jennings, David R. King
- Raddr's home page ( an ER's research on asset allocation, diversification, and withdrawal rates.

Military articles
- Summary of the military retirement system (two parts):
The Military Retirement System - Military Benefits -
The Military Retirement System (Part 2) - Military Benefits -
- USAA's "Military Retirement: One Chance to Get It Right" ebook
(, accessed from
- DoD analysis of REDUX: Comparing Options
- DoD summary of REDUX at specific ranks and years of service:
Typical Solutions
- Center for Naval Analysis REDUX study:
- analysis of REDUX: The Military Retirement System (Part 2) - Military Benefits -
- Military Times "REDUX Bonus: Bad Deal Gets Worse": Redux Bonus: Bad Deal Gets Worse
- Military Times "REDUX Bonus Repeal Sought": Redux Bonus Repeal Sought
- "As I See It" Military Officer's Association of America article on REDUX: MOAA: Military Officers Association of AmericaAs I See It — REDUX “Career Status Bonus” — A $30,000 Scandal
- MOAA on Roth TSP proposal:
MOAA: Military Officers Association of AmericaAs I See It — Thrift Savings Plan: Don’t Play With Matches
- MSN Money "Does military service still pay?": Does military service still pay? - MSN Money
- Military Times "Retired Pay Differences Rise": Retired Pay Differences Rise
- Military Times "Active Duty Retirees Die Sooner Than Reservists": Reservists Live Longer than Active Duty
- Kiplinger's "Personal Finance for Military Families":
- Money magazine "Retired at 40: The Nielsens": Retired at 40 - February 1, 2008

William Bernstein's "Retirement Calculator from Hell" five-part series:
The Retirement Calculator From Hell - Part II
The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part III
Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part IV
The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part V
Newsletters on the retirement transition: Index of /newsletter
Philip Greenspun on ER: Early Retirement
"Six myths" of Social Security": This article and more available at

Military websites
DoD's REDUX website: Comparing Options
StayNavy retirement pay calculator:
Computing retired military pay: Computing Retired Military Pay - Military Benefits -
USAA's "Military Retirement" summary:
DFAS pay tables: Military Pay Tables
TSP FAQs: TSP: Uniformed Services Features, Table of Contents; 2008 Sep 18
TSP annuity calculator: TSP: Annuity Calculator; 2008 Feb 26
"Military Handbooks": Military Handbooks
"Together We Served" Navy and its other service websites: United States Navy - Together We Served

Websites The biggest and busiest of the bunch with over 8000 members, over seven years, and over 500,000 posts.
Retire Early Home Page ( over a decade of research, articles, and reviews by John Greaney, another ER pioneer.
Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More": Work Less, Live More: The New Way to Retire Early by Bob Clyatt
Billy & Akaisha Kaderli: Retire Early Lifestyle
Paul & Vicki Terhorst: Home ‎(paulvicgroup)‎
The Efficient Frontier (Efficient Frontier). William Bernstein's research on asset allocation and estimating safe withdrawal rates.
The Dollar $tretcher ( One of the best websites about saving, paying off debt, and living with money. Many more links to
Gummy's Stuff ( an absolute treasure trove of financial information, explanations, and entertainment. Retired professor Peter Ponzo is no longer updating the site but a cache is available at gummy stuff.
FundAlarm ( Roy Weitz' revealing, irreverent, and occasionally ruthless critiques of the mutual-fund industry. ( The triumphs and details of frugal living.
Ed Slott's IRA Help discussion board: Ed Slott and Company IRA Discussion Forum • Index page
Fairmark ( extremely comprehensive tax guide.
Your Money or Your Life updates: Your Money or Your Life
Bud Hebeler's "Analyze Now!" retirement research:
Early Retirement Extreme ( a very early retiree with unusual ideas on frugality and on achieving ER in just a few years. Not for the faint of heart, but many valuable concepts to choose from.
Bogleheads reference library (Bogleheads :: View topic - Table of Contents and many more resources on low-cost investing and index funds.
"My Next Phase" ( retirement surveys and counseling for adjusting your retirement plans to your personality, temperament, and interests. Valuable articles and advice but the "tough love" approach may be mildly annoying at times. For a preview, see the link to their newsletters in the "Articles" section.
Bureau of Labor & Statistics ( inflation calculator for answering the question "What's a dollar worth today?" Also contains more details on the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, and the Employment Cost Index. huge dictionary of investment terms and concepts.

FIRECalc ( the latest free version of the original early-retirement calculator, with different planning options for different scenarios.
FinancialEngines ( Free trial of extremely detailed retirement calculator. Allows changing many more parameters than a typical retirement calculator.
"Analyze Now!" ( Programs/free_programs.htm): spreadsheets and programs for analyzing different retirement scenarios from "Bud" Hebeler's retirement planner.
ESPlanner ( retirement planning software designed to level out spending and consumption over the span of a retirement. Extremely detailed data entry for those who want to investigate all the intricacies of ER financial planning.
Day clocks ( this is not a joke!
Do you have a mind-reading machine?

I was browsing around in the Links section & other FAQ forums in here earlier today for a list of books on investing. I wanted to share it with a friend and was feeling too lazy to write it up myself.

Many thanks!
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