IT ISN’T HARD THESE days to find media stories about family financial troubles—living paycheck to paycheck, no retirement savings, no emergency money and so on. These news reports often include complaints about the limited opportunities to get ahead financially.
That got me thinking about my own work history. My memory of earning money goes back to 1953, when I was age 10. It was about then that I recall understanding that you needed money to get stuff,
IT’S SCARY TO RETIRE with a pool of money, knowing how you handle it determines your financial security for the next 25 years or so. It must seem even scarier to everyday Americans who don’t think they can count on Social Security.
A recent Tweet caught my eye. It linked to an article about the problems with the so-called 4% rule. As you might recall, the 4% rule states that, if you withdraw 4% of your portfolio’s value in the first year of retirement and thereafter step up the dollar amount withdrawn with inflation,
YOU MAY HAVE HEARD me say this before: I don’t think people need to budget if they have an effective spending and saving system. Recently, a reader of my blog challenged me on that point, arguing that you need a budget to ensure you’ll have enough to pay off your credit cards in full.
Au contraire, as we say here in New Jersey.
You may also have heard of the envelope method, where some people place money in envelopes for specific expenses.
IF YOU’VE WORKED a lifetime—while prudently saving and investing—so that in old age you’re well off financially, should you feel guilty?
If your retirement income is greater than the income of most American families, including those still raising young children and facing college costs, as well as the cost of their own retirement, is that embarrassing?
A few years back, during a discussion about how people spend, save and invest, my son-in-law—who’s a financial advisor to high net worth families—casually said to me,
MY AFFINITY FOR spreadsheets began in the late 1960s when I was a paperboy in Virginia Beach. I had a morning route for The Virginian-Pilot and an afternoon route for the now-defunct Ledger-Star. I used my Huffy bicycle with huge baskets front and back.
The business model was straightforward. I paid wholesale for the papers, and customers paid the retail price of 35 cents per week, or 55 cents if they also got the Sunday paper.
MANY OF THE WEALTHY people I’ve studied were extremely frugal—to the point of eccentricity. Why is it that when rich folks are tightfisted, people call them eccentric, but—if you aren’t rich—people tag you as cheap?
New Jersey Bell Telephone Co., now called Verizon, used to have small inserts with its bills that highlighted persons of note who had a connection to the state, whether they were natives or had resided there at some point,
ON NEW YEAR’S DAY 2022, to shed some holiday weight and make the most of one of the world’s great strolling cities, I resolved to walk several miles each day around the streets of New York.
I’ve always had a happy knack for finding money as I wander. Ideally, I’d love to have been blessed with a more glamorous superpower. But alas, my lot in life seems to be a preternatural ability to locate lost coins at a hundred paces—the result of a thrifty Scots heritage,
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I’ve been experiencing sticker shock lately when I step into the grocery store.
Meats, vegetables, paper products, canned goods—everything is costing a lot more. One example: My favorite brand of Good’s thin pretzels now costs $2.50 a bag—75 cents more than I was paying a year ago. Compared to the other brands in the snack aisle, those Good’s pretzels are still a bargain, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Along with steeper prices for gas,
AS A RELATIVE newcomer to the wonderful world of personal finance and investing, I’m quickly learning that there’s more to money than numbers. I’m discovering from my own experiences, as well as that of others, that psychology plays a huge role in how we handle our finances.
We’re human beings, not machines. We aren’t completely logical. Yes, logic helps the process, but logic isn’t how we regularly process and digest information. Instead, we’re driven primarily by our emotions.
AT THE MUTUAL FUND company where I once worked, the stock and bond teams liked to poke fun at one another. Bond managers viewed the stock-pickers as overpaid storytellers. Meanwhile, the stock-pickers saw the world of bonds as stultifying. “Playing for nickels and dimes” is how one of them put it.
For better or worse, bonds do indeed represent the slow lane. But this year, with bond prices depressed by rising interest rates, investors are wanting to learn more.
WHETHER FOR GOOD luck or because I’m thrifty, I still stoop down to pick up pennies. But there might not be any in the future.
Thanks to their copper content, pennies now cost twice as much to produce as they’re worth—and skyrocketing inflation is only exacerbating the problem. There are even rumors that the government will stop producing pennies, but so far the U.S. Mint has made no such announcement.
Instead of using my debit card for groceries,
GOT CHARITABLE giving on your mind? Join the crowd. Many folks donate at this time of year, with their charitable giving driven by the charities themselves.
As solicitations arrive, people decide on a case-by-case basis whether to pull out their checkbooks. But some folks follow a more structured process, and that’s the approach I favor. It includes asking these three questions:
1. How much ideally would you like to give? As a starting point,
I’M ON MY THIRD cup of coffee this morning and it dawned on me how much I’m spending on the stuff. I have one of those machines that use the little K-Cup pods, which may be the most expensive way to make coffee. I find it curious that someone who likes to think of himself as frugal makes coffee at home that can cost 70 cents or more per cup.
If I bought a pound bag of house brand—not designer—coffee,
AS A PARENT, it’s my responsibility to teach my children good financial habits. Core among these are deferring gratification, saving diligently, giving generously and making sensible spending choices. I feel it’s also important to make my children aware of financial pitfalls. Succeeding financially—and in life generally—seems to be as much about avoiding self-destructive habits as it is about cultivating good ones.
My wife and I have been homeschooling our children for the last couple of years.
AS YOU STRIVE TO DO well, should you also strive to do good?
We’re seeing a boom in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. For instance, according to a recent Morningstar report, there are now 534 index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) around the world that screen their holdings using ESG criteria. Together, these funds have almost $250 billion in assets—more than twice the sum they had three years earlier.
ESG investing offers a way to invest in funds that consider issues such as the use of natural resources,