Batting .500

Ron Wayne

ALMOST SEVEN MONTHS on, I’ve failed miserably with one of the New Year’s resolutions I wrote about for HumbleDollar—but I’ve done well with the other.

I’d like to take credit for my success in not obsessively checking my IRA, but the discouraging reality of the financial markets has a lot to do with it. This year, going online to view my account several times a day—which I’ve been known to do—would have left me feeling truly hopeless.

My IRA has dropped some 16% over the past six months, which is especially depressing because this is the money I use for indulgences that aren’t part of my monthly budget—things like going on vacations. Fortunately, I have Social Security and my state pension to fund the rest of my life, though inflation is making that an increasing challenge.

Right now, I don’t want to touch my IRA. Most of my mutual funds and individual stocks are down from where I bought them. Like many others, I was probably a little too optimistic after the strong gains of recent years.

To avoid selling at a loss, I’m going to finance part of a big trip this year with a 0% credit card I just opened. It stays at 0% for 15 months. My hope—or perhaps prayer: My funds will rebound in that time and I can pay off my travel expenses. The best laid plans of mice and men?

During this extraordinarily hot Florida summer, I’m using my dining table as my desk, so I can save money by not cooling my study. That brings me to my other New Year’s resolution: Remove clutter and keep it from coming back. I could embarrass myself by posting a photograph that illustrates my failure. That photograph would show the random piles of paper on my dining table. The study also has mini-piles of miscellaneous items that have no place or purpose.

An inherent problem with my fight against clutter is that I hate throwing items into the garbage, where they might end up in landfills for an eternity. I’ve always been an avid recycler. But what do you do with old floppy disks? Or how about the coffee maker that leaks water from the carafe side but not the Keurig side, which is the side I never use? I guess I could donate the machine, along with a note about its limits.

One bright spot: I’ve finally started using the paper shredder I received as a birthday gift last year. I’m sifting through drawers and folders filled with papers. Unfortunately, that sends me down memory lane, especially as I look at old newspaper clips and notes from readers. I know my kids don’t care. They aren’t their memories.

The other problem: Procrastination in retirement is so easy. I always figure I have tomorrow to tackle the clutter. But in the meantime, the clutter keeps growing.

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