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,
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,
MONEY IS ONE OF THE most emotional issues we deal with. It can create both immense stress and moments of pleasure. I’m guessing the way each of us view money, and how we handle it, is as unique as our fingerprints.
My wife’s car of 14 years was kaput and headed for the junkyard. Fixing the wiring and computer on her 2006 Jaguar would have cost $5,000—far more than the car was worth, even though it was otherwise in very good shape.
IT SEEMS THE WORST of this economic crisis may have passed, though the health risks will be with us for some time. What have we learned? For many people, long-discussed financial risks became all too real in 2020.
There are two words that should always be part of our thinking: what if. Those two words aren’t always associated with bad things. What if I win the lottery? I have a plan for that, which varies depending on how much I win and whether it triggers estate taxes.
I OFTEN BLOG ABOUT mistakes I’ve made. Why change now? Looking back over my 76 years and the many poor money decisions I’ve made, it’s a wonder I’m in better financial shape than the Social Security trust fund—and yet I am. Here are 10 of my more memorable decisions:
In 1961, when I started working at age 18, I got hooked on the stock market. With little money and earning a bit more than minimum wage,
ALMOST EVERYBODY collects Social Security at some point in their life. But it seems like that’s the only thing we all have in common.
Why are there such stark differences of opinion regarding Social Security’s purpose and effectiveness? Why are so many Americans willing to believe that one administration or another stole the Social Security trust fund? Why is any effort to modify the program for future retirees immediately denounced as a cut in benefits?
BEING CONFINED TO home—except for trips to the grocery store for “necessities”—is changing me. My frugality has evaporated, my prudent buying habits destroyed, my healthy eating falling by the wayside. What’s happening?
No doubt there is a diagnosis, but in simple terms it’s called stir-crazy—and I’ve got it bad.
I’ve made two trips to the supermarket in the past two weeks. I had a shopping list. But as a result of my affliction, I instead roamed the aisles,
THE SAGA IS FINALLY over—18 months and $50,000 later. That’s what my clever moving strategy cost, including taxes, interest, insurance, utilities and some maintenance on the house I hadn’t lived in for more than a year. My strategy was intended to lessen stress, but instead it did just the opposite.
This all started because our 1929 house became too much to cope with, the stairs became too much for my wife—and I resisted moving for too long.
MY PARENTS AND grandparents were forever affected by the Great Depression of the 1930s. They shunned debt, paid cash for everything, never invested in stocks and kept their modest savings in the bank, mostly in a checking account.
Following the 2008-09 Great Recession, many Americans also changed their financial ways, at least temporarily. We increased our savings rate immediately after the recession. But a few years later, we returned to our high spending ways.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, when we were heading into Port Everglades, Florida, hoping to disembark in a few hours, there were mixed emotions. Sure, we wanted off the boat and to be home. But we had been at sea for nearly a month and we humans easily fall into routines. Once home, no one would be setting a tray of food at our condo door three times a day. Our last meal on the ship was filet mignon and lobster tails.
AFTER A SHORT BUT rough tender ride, we’re now off the Zaandam and on the Rotterdam, where we are once again quarantined in our cabin, thankfully still with a balcony. We are through the Panama Canal and now near Cuba. Our three-and-a-half week “mystery” cruise is—we hope—drawing to a close.
On March 30, Colombia refused to allow a plane to land on one of its islands near us. The plane carried medical supplies for the Zaandam.
YES, I’M STILL AT SEA. Confinement in our cabin is wearing thin. But unfortunately, with ports closed and politicians opposed to us docking in Florida, the end isn’t in sight.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be totally dependent on someone who you can’t see and have no contact with? Me neither. But now, I know.
Bottles of water show up at our door, the last one a full gallon.
I ATTEMPTED TO CHECK the markets the other day and everything was the same as the day before and the day before that. Had the world really stopped? No, it was Sunday. The fact is, I have no idea where I am or what day it is. I’m still in the Pacific on a ship full of senior citizens who outwardly have few concerns, except when the restaurants will open. But we are famous,
I WRITE THIS FROM somewhere in the Atlantic. We’re headed toward the Falkland Islands, where we’ll apparently see penguins. My wife and I booked this cruise months ago. Since then, of course, we’ve been told repeatedly that being on a ship for 30 days with mostly 60- to 80-somethings is not the best idea. Who knew?
There was a time when getting away meant little connection to the outside world. No more.