Measuring My Money

Mark Eckman

Mark is a retired CPA who spends more time with his grandsons than his portfolio. In retirement, he's realized change remains the only constant, and he'll adapt. His priorities: family, food and fun.

  • Connect:
  • Twitter

Measuring My Money

Mark Eckman  |  Feb 20, 2024

I KNOW FOLKS WHO consider their income to be the best measure of their wealth. Income, however, doesn’t gauge whether you’re making headway toward financial independence.
What does? My financial statement provides everything I need to measure my progress. At the end of each December, I gather the dollar amounts for my assets and liabilities, and assemble the details on a spreadsheet that compares my current standing with prior years. If you’re inspired to do the same,

Read More

Rx for Future Pain

Mark Eckman  |  Oct 10, 2023

HEALTH SAVINGS accounts (HSAs) were introduced in 2003, and have since become commonplace in employee benefit plans. My experience with HSAs dates to 2004, when my employer offered $400 in one-time seed money as an incentive to sign up.
HSAs differed from existing health-care flexible spending accounts, and offered some features I preferred. To me, the HSA’s most appealing feature was that I controlled the money. There’s no “use it or lose it” rule,

Read More

Left With the Details

Mark Eckman  |  Aug 28, 2023

MY WIFE AND I PLANNED our retirement using several standard assumptions, including how long we might live. Dorothy was healthier than me, so we assumed I’d be the first to go. But on June 30, she died suddenly, and I was the one left to deal with the fallout—including the many pesky, practical details.
Those details were bureaucratic and technical, and it didn’t take long to complete them. Dealing with the funeral home, Social Security and various financial institutions was straightforward.

Read More

No Fixed Address

Mark Eckman  |  Feb 7, 2023

THE BEST DESCRIPTION for my career would be “corporate vagabond.” I moved the family six times to five different states over 42 years.
Because we never settled down in one place, my wife and I spent 15 years visiting potential retirement locations. We visited sprawling metropolitan areas, small towns, retirement communities and the town where we both grew up. We also considered the areas where we’d lived, but nothing appealed to us.
One evening,

Read More

Letter Grades

Mark Eckman  |  Mar 12, 2020

WHEN YOU SEE an advertisement, you expect some hype. Ads for investment newsletters are, alas, no exception.
Sometimes, you hear about their unique investment process or how the newsletter regularly beats the market. Some offer one-sentence testimonials from happy subscribers. The message: You, too, can enjoy the benefits of their secret methodologies for a low, low price.
Yes, the ads are undoubtedly compelling. But you need to separate the hype from reality. Fortunately, Hulbert Financial Digest does just that—by tracking the performance of investment newsletters.

Read More

Missing the Target

Mark Eckman  |  Nov 27, 2019

USE THE RIGHT TOOL for the job and you’ll get the best result. If you need to connect two boards, you could use a hammer and a nail or a screwdriver and a screw. Either methods work—and they’re certainly better than banging in a screw with a hammer, which I’ve seen tried. It was not effective.
Participants in 401(k) plans, alas, display similar behavior with target date funds, or TDFs. A TDF offers a diversified portfolio in a single fund,

Read More

Alphabet Soup

Mark Eckman  |  Oct 28, 2019

WHEN YOU NEED expertise, you hire an expert. Water leak? Call a plumber. Electrical issue? Call an electrician. But when it’s a financial issue, the choice may not be so clear. Do you go to a CKA, a GFS or maybe a C3DWP? Chances are you haven’t heard of these designations.
I have 10 letters in my name. I also have 10 letters after my name: CPA, CISA and MBA. What do they mean?

Read More

Financial Pilates

Mark Eckman  |  Oct 18, 2019

NOTHING COMPARES to the human body when it comes to the combination of strength, flexibility and control. Build a strong core, and the possibilities are limitless. Through the discipline of Pilates, you can strengthen your core, while developing flexibility and control. It’s a wonderful tool, but one that’s underutilized.
The same can be said for health savings accounts, or HSAs, which can be funded if you have a high-deductible health plan. With an HSA,

Read More

Giving Voice

Mark Eckman  |  Sep 6, 2019

“WE NEED TO TALK.” How many relationships have ended with those four words? They’re a verbal cue to take the news calmly and move on with life. But I would guess just as many relationships have ended without any words or possibly with harsh words. That’s what happens when we don’t talk about our relationship—or about our financial situation and financial plans.
A few years ago, my wife used those four words after I announced I was reducing our life insurance.

Read More