#SmartMoney | 14th Sept 2014

I’ve lost count of all the great blog posts I’ve read this week, but here are a handful of my favourites: the #SmartMoney roundup.

First of all, I was delighted to learn from Mr Money Mustache that it’s okay to have just one kid. As an only child myself, it has often struck me that there are just as many negatives as positives to having brothers and sisters (what if you don’t LIKE them?!) and given that having children is one of the most expensive decisions you will ever make, it’s not surprising that many people choose to have just one.

I also found it interesting because I took a trip to China last year and everywhere I went (no seriously… EVERYwhere), people were amazed to hear that I don’t have any brothers and sisters. In China it’s a dream because they’ve had the one-child policy for such a long time, so it’s hard for them to understand parents NOT having more children when it’s not forbidden by the State… I guess you always want what you can’t have.

Another post I enjoyed was Money Beagle’s take on tipping, particularly since we don’t operate the same system in the UK and Europe as you guys do across the pond: whereas in the US you feel obliged to tip 20% just so the waiter can afford to eat (and you even feel obliged to tip 10% for lousy service…), in Europe we usually only tip when the service is excellent. Bad service, on the other hand, will often be met by a complaint to the manager: table service (good or bad) is part of the experience of eating out, and in the same way you’d expect me to complain if the chicken was raw or the soup was cold, bad service can spoil that experience.

That system only works because the wait staff are paid wages by the restaurants and bars in Europe (I know… crazy right?!), but as a result I don’t feel obliged to leave a tip when I go out for a meal. And when I do, you’ll know it’s because I thought the service was outstanding and because I enjoyed the meal so much that I’ll be back, probably with friends next time. Tipping is a compliment here, not an obligation.

numberfourHowever, perhaps the most interesting post of the week for me came from Jason Fieber at Dividend Mantra because it’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a while now: The Trinity Study 4% Rule.

I understand the figures. I understand the arguments. And I understand the history which shows how it works for whichever period you choose. The thing which troubles me though — the thing I just can’t seem to get past — is that stock markets are currently trading at all-time highs and the governments of every major economy seem to be printing money like it’s going out of fashion in order to devalue their currency, to inflate away their debts, and to make their exports more competitive: the UK, the US, Japan and now the EU too.

With massively inflated stock prices and no sign of increased value in those stocks to back up the prices, a great many educated and experienced people are saying we’re in bubble territory and they’re calling for a major correction. Some are even likening it to the situation we saw just prior to the Wall St Crash…