For Safety’s Sake

David Powell

David loves thinking about personal finance, spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, cycling, music, exploring new restaurants and sampling wines. His software engineering interests are focused on new technologies that improve security and trust in computing systems and software supply chains.

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For Safety’s Sake

David Powell  |  Jun 24, 2023

ON JUNE 15, THE NEWS was broken by The Oregonian of a massive hack at Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles, apparently leading to the theft of sensitive details about most of Oregon’s 3.5 million holders of a driver’s license or ID card. Incidents like this, along with the huge 2017 Equifax hack, give criminals cheap and easy access to key personal information that many organizations routinely use to verify our identities and screen our credit applications.

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Kicking the Habit

David Powell  |  May 17, 2023

REDUCTION IN FORCE. Layoff. Redundancy. For months now, the media have been running articles about technology companies shedding workers.
In October, the headlines became personal: My manager eliminated my position. It was the first layoff in my 37-year career and an early 60th birthday surprise. My last day would be in mid-December. After another year of positive performance reviews and accompanying financial rewards, the news was a shocker.
After that fateful call with my boss,

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On Guard Online

David Powell  |  Feb 27, 2022

IN AN ARTICLE last year, I wrote about the importance of strong online account security wherever you keep your savings and investments. I shared habits that should help you avoid the potentially huge financial losses caused by a cybercrime. I also urged readers to weigh a company’s commitment to security when choosing a home for their money.
I’d like to give kudos to Bank of America for providing a good example of this commitment.

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Phoning It In

David Powell  |  Nov 14, 2021

THOSE PAPER COVID-19 vaccination cards weren’t designed for heavy use. Yet many jurisdictions require proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant, theater, museum or sports event. How do we avoid wearing out the card when we’re constantly pulling it out of our purse, pocket or wallet? Simple. Provide digital proof of your vaccine status.
There are some state-specific mobile apps that do this, like New York’s Excelsior Pass, as well as proprietary apps like Clear and Azova.

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Reversion Can Be Mean

David Powell  |  Aug 13, 2021

MONEY MANAGER GMO recently noted that, “There are no bad assets just bad prices.” The occasion was the S&P 500’s price outrunning earnings by 70% over the seven years through March. GMO’s punchline: The same thing happened in the seven years that ended with the dot-com peak in March 2000. This, of course, did not end well.
Two decades ago, I remember a friend telling me of steep losses in his retirement savings, the result of moving his entire 401(k) into aggressive,

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Losing It All

David Powell  |  Jul 5, 2021

OVER A PRODUCTIVE 30-year career that ended in 1950, Willie Sutton robbed as many as 100 banks for gains worth $40 million today—without ever firing a shot. That sort of bank robbery is rare now and, when it happens, customers don’t lose a dime, thanks to FDIC insurance.
Today, Sutton—the Babe Ruth of robbers—wouldn’t waste time knocking over banks. Trillions of dollars held in millions of internet-accessible retirement and brokerage accounts are much softer and more lucrative targets.

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Staying Wealthy

David Powell  |  May 24, 2021

A CLOSE FRIEND’S LONG career in the motion picture business recently came to an end when the studio eliminated her job. Even before the pandemic, the industry was changing, so she wasn’t surprised or, for that matter, especially sad about getting laid off. She was lucky to receive a good severance package and is now ready to do something different. But finding the right job will likely take time, so carefully managing her cash through the transition period is crucial.

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Crossing the Stream

David Powell  |  Feb 15, 2021

IT BEGAN AS A TRICKLE. Now, it’s a flood—and my family’s been swept up in it. For the past decade, we’ve streamed on-demand movies and Netflix shows, but we also continued to pay far too much for live TV using either cable or satellite services. No longer.
As Jannette Collins noted in a recent article, there are now numerous internet streaming services, including some free options. Our family has used some of these, but we still kept costly TV service for live broadcasts of news,

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Toys for Techies

David Powell  |  Dec 14, 2020

IF YOU’RE ONE OF THE lucky ones in this COVID-19 economy, with a job and the wherewithal to buy holiday gifts for friends or family, here are five eclectic tech gift ideas for budgets small, large and XXL:
1. Ergonomic Desk. The pandemic has many of us working from home. After a couple months of this, my back, neck and forearms cried out for the ergonomic desk I had at the office.

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Money for Later

David Powell  |  Oct 26, 2020

IF A SALESPERSON had tried to get me to sink my hard-earned money into an investment that’s illiquid or issued by an insurance company, I would have shut down in a New York minute—until now.
My spouse and I recently became owners of a deferred income annuity (DIA), with plans to put perhaps 15% of our savings into these products. Also known as longevity insurance, a DIA involves plunking down money today in return for regular monthly income starting at a future date.

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Beat the Cheats

David Powell  |  Jul 26, 2019

U.S. CREDIT CARD fraud topped $8 billion in 2015 and should surpass $12 billion next year. You can reduce your exposure to such incidents with a few simple steps. Why bother? Won’t the bank pick up the tab when unauthorized purchases show up on your account? Generally, yes, thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. But there may be limitations on that protection, based on how quickly you notify your bank when you discover unauthorized charges.

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Get Me a Margarita

David Powell  |  Jul 12, 2019

I HAVE LONG ADMIRED my good friend Nick for his generosity with friends—but also for his inspiring ability to pinch a penny. The man can pinch so hard he makes Lincoln cry, so I knew the world was changing fast when he installed a Ring video doorbell. Really? Pinch me.
A decade ago, new technologies inspired fantasies of living in a Jetsons-style “smart home.” There was a nascent market for internet-connected products,

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Making a Mesh

David Powell  |  May 24, 2019

THERE ARE AREAS in my life where I’ve spent too much money and time trying to be cheap. My reward: steady aggravation—until I spent a bit more to get the right solution.
Which brings me to home networking technology. Most of us spend some $500 a year or more for internet broadband service. The problem: Many families are still living with old networking gear that’s slower than it should be, sometimes unreliable or provides poor wi-fi coverage in parts of their house.

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Elon and Me

David Powell  |  Apr 10, 2019

IN MARCH, I DROVE off the Tesla lot in a new Model 3 with Ben Franklin’s quote in my head: “So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
Elon Musk had just announced availability of lower cost versions of the Model 3. After eight years of waiting for a Tesla that would cost less than my first home,

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Beefing Up Security

David Powell  |  Mar 21, 2019

MANY OF US HAVE little more than a weak, reused password standing between our financial assets and a remote attacker—one armed with powerful tools and a database of passwords from security breaches. This is a losing battle. It’s the most likely way for weak computer security to put our finances at risk.
Think this can’t happen to you? I’ll bet you have at least one password taken in a big security breach. A quick way to find out is entering your email address at Troy Hunt’s HaveIBeenPwned site.

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