I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY more: I need to rant about health care.
There’s absolutely no reason to continue the current health-care payment system, none, not one. Where’s the rationale for having private insurance, Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)? Each was developed to deal with the same issue—paying for health care.
Some form of Medicare for all, or M4A as it’s sometimes known, is the only system that makes sense.
I DREAD THOSE RED down votes on my HumbleDollar comments. Perhaps at times I come across as less than empathetic, but that’s not really me. I have sincere empathy for anyone who honestly struggles to make life decisions, including financial decisions. I also realize that adhering to good financial practices is made hard by the problems that arise with the ups and downs of daily life.
I spent my working life, which spanned nearly 50 years,
SELLING A HOUSE should be easy. Hire a realtor, find a buyer, the realtor takes a percentage and it’s a done deal. If only.
Try this version instead. Before we could sell our house in 2020, we had to fix a list of defects, including power washing the roof, having a dead tree removed, digging up an already drained oil tank and tearing up the pavers in the driveway to get at the tank.
A LONG TIME AGO, when I bought gas for my car, the attendant gave me a miniature jar of grape jelly. In fact, every time I’d fill up, I’d receive a little jar of jelly or a juice glass—back in 1964.
If I didn’t get jelly, I’d get a faux tiger’s tail, which I dangled from my gas tank. When that tiger tail was stolen, I hung its replacement from my rearview mirror. Yes,
I WAS READING HumbleDollar, minding my own business, when I heard those dreaded words: “I need to go shopping.” Frankly, I dislike shopping. If I need something from a store, I go, quickly find what I’m looking for, pay and leave. I use self-checkout whenever it’s available so I can get out as soon as possible.
To avoid the store altogether, I may go online and never leave my easy chair.
AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED in The Wall Street Journal told the story of Americans in their 30s who are spending heavily and piling on debt as we leave the pandemic behind.
One family with an income of $80,000 in Lincoln, Nebraska—where the cost of living is low, with housing costs 22% below the national average—had $20,000 in credit card debt and $160,000 in student loans.
They used stimulus checks to work down their credit card debt.
CAN WE REALLY EXPECT Americans to be financially literate and act prudently with their money—when they can’t even return a shopping cart to where it belongs, or stop dropping litter wherever they stand?
I was in the grocery store recently and came out to find a shopping cart pushed into the side of my car. I was parked eight feet from the cart corral. Meanwhile, on my last trip to an ATM, the ground was littered with receipts.
EXCEPT FOR A SCALLION or cucumber—feel free to add other items—finding something green in your refrigerator is generally not good. This morning, I reached for the butter and caught a glimpse of dark green. It was a wedge of never-opened goat cheese, $5.60 worth. Or, to view it another way, $253 in lost retirement savings over the next 40 years.
Before we left for Florida this winter, we removed from the fridge all items that would not survive six weeks.
AS A TEENAGER, I wanted to be an architect. I took six years of mechanical drawing during junior and senior high school, and I was good at it, earning nearly all As.
At another time, in my 30s, I thought about becoming a lawyer. People told me I’d make a good one. A lawyer’s opinion seemed to carry more weight, even when the subject was unrelated to legal matters.
I also wanted to play a musical instrument.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT about what made you the person you are—the way you think about money, life, your behaviors, your likes and dislikes? When I look at my own life, I can clearly see the impact of my childhood.
My mother and grandmother made a lot of my and my sister’s clothes. I recall those paper dress patterns all over the apartment. Is that why I dislike shopping for clothes? I’m happy to let my wife and daughter decide what I should wear.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED to save for retirement? How much will I spend in retirement? Can I live comfortably in retirement? Can I even afford to retire?
I can answer all these questions, but most likely none of my answers will be exactly right—for you. Experts tackle these questions, too, but provide inconsistent answers. Google any of them and you’ll get a range of results. Without knowing your situation, such shotgun advice is pretty meaningless.
DO A QUICK REVIEW of Twitter and other social media sites, and you’ll find extensive use of the word “free.” The dictionary defines free as “without cost or payment.”
College, health care, child care, preschool, even housing are often mentioned in connection with “free.” The actual cost of “free” may not be what it seems. Free in this context typically means shifting the cost from one person to another, or redirecting money to some favored purpose.
I RECENTLY DISCUSSED Social Security with a friend. After trying to explain the program’s funding, I gave up when his reply was, “The facts are that the Social Security money was misappropriated and there’s no way it can be tracked after all these years. People die before they collect one Social Security check, and others get very few checks. You will never convince me otherwise.”
Yes, that’s the one thing we do agree on: I will indeed never change his mind.
I STARTED WRITING for HumbleDollar almost five years ago—and it’s become a big part of my retirement.
Some folks have likened me to Andy Rooney. It’s a comparison I’ve happily embraced. I try to offer pointed opinions leavened by a measure of humor. Here are my 10 favorite articles that I’ve written for the site.
Choosing Badly (April 24, 2018). This was my first piece for HumbleDollar. Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans are underutilized and misused.
I’M AMAZED BY the opinions expressed by some retirees about the Medicare premium surcharge known as IRMAA, short for income-related monthly adjustment amount. Is it really unfair for higher-income older Americans to pay larger premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D? Many people think so.
IRMAA was part of 2003’s Medicare Modernization Act and took effect in 2007. The threshold at which IRMAA kicks in for a couple is four times higher than the median household income for Americans age 65 and older.