An Old Man’s Gripes

Richard Quinn

In addition to writing for HumbleDollar, Dick blogs at his own site, Before retiring in 2010, he was a compensation and benefits executive. Dick and his wife Connie have four children and 13 grandchildren, and they've been married for more than 50 years. Since retiring, they have been to 44 countries and driven across the U.S. twice. Dick takes pride in having kissed the Blarney Stone, drunk from the Fountain of Youth and placed a prayer in the Western Wall. He's written more than 200 articles and blog posts for HumbleDollar.

An Old Man’s Gripes

Richard Quinn  |  Jun 5, 2019

THOMAS JEFFERSON said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
It’s well known that we tend to believe what we want or what fits our preconceived notions. But this is getting out of control. Here’s what drives me nuts on the misinformation superhighway:
1. “Health care is unaffordable.” There’s no denying health care is expensive and insurance premiums can be a heavy financial burden. And, yes, surveys find that Americans think health care is unaffordable.

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Money Pit

Richard Quinn  |  May 30, 2019

ON JUNE 6, 2018, WE closed on our new condo in a 55-plus community. The time had come to avoid the stairs in our three-story house. Moving after more than 40 years was quite a transition. Still, condo living is great—so much less house stuff to do or worry about. Eventually, our monthly expenses will be greatly reduced.
Notice I haven’t mentioned selling our house. That’s because we haven’t. The thought of cleaning out a house,

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Crying Poverty

Richard Quinn  |  May 23, 2019

I HAVE BEEN ACCUSED of being too critical of America’s spending habits. I’m not in touch with families who live paycheck to paycheck, or so I’m told. I was roundly attacked by folks on Facebook, who claimed I lacked sympathy for the federal workers who ran out of money during the government shutdown—even before they missed a payday.
We all know there are Americans who struggle to get by on very low incomes. But that’s the minority.

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Richard Quinn  |  May 16, 2019

IN 1914, HENRY FORD approved a new minimum wage of $5 per day for most of his workers. Thousands lined up for jobs. Other businesses were thrown for a loop, as they tried to figure out how to compete for workers.
Ford’s shocking wage wasn’t pure altruism. He wanted to motivate his workers to do a routine, boring job and to reduce employee turnover. The $5 included an advance on profit sharing—another motivating factor.

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Farewell Money

Richard Quinn  |  May 7, 2019

FROM THE LOFTY PERCH of old age, and after a lifetime of thrift, I declare that I am qualified to comment on how not to waste money.
We’ve all heard the reports: Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, a large number can’t come up with $400 for an emergency, and there’s no money to save for retirement and other goals.
Most of that data comes from surveys where people are, in effect, saying they don’t have enough income.

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One Last Thing

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 25, 2019

ONLY ABOUT 40% of Americans have a will, including just 58% of those ages 53 to 71. The good news is, among those of us 72 and above, the percentage is much higher—81%.
Putting in place a will, trust documents, powers of attorney and so on is no easy task. I’ve been through the process twice and it’s not fun, mostly because a good attorney will ask a lot of uncomfortable questions you’d probably rather not think about—like,

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Over Coffee

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 19, 2019

SITTING IN A COFFEE shop, I struck up conversation with a middle-aged woman. We were talking about winning the lottery and then, as if one thought naturally followed the other, we got onto the topic of retirement. She mentioned how difficult it was for her and her husband to pay the mortgage and the monthly bills.
“After saving for retirement?”  I interjected.
“We can’t save for retirement,” she responded. “Our plan is to get our mortgage paid off,

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Get the Point

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 11, 2019

I’M A DEADBEAT. That’s what companies call people who pay off their credit cards in full every month and hence don’t incur interest. But I’m more than that. I’m a leverager. I leverage points and stars and credits everywhere I go.
Let me count the ways.
When I go to the gas station, I use my American Express card and my Exxon rewards card. I get credits from Exxon for buying the gas, which I apply to future gas purchases,

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Poor Judgment

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 3, 2019

MANY AMERICANS SEEM to think of themselves as poor—even though they don’t come close to meeting the official definition.
Let’s start with some objective measures. One standard official measure says that, for 2019, a two-person household is in poverty with annual income of $16,910 or less. According to an MIT calculator, a two-adult household in Calhoun County, Alabama, needs to earn at least $8.54 per hour each—with both working fulltime—to support themselves. In Bergen County,

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How to Blow It

Richard Quinn  |  Mar 15, 2019

THERE’S AN ABUNDANCE of advice on how to plan for retirement. Oh, it’s good advice. But it’s also a bit complicated, often requires discipline and always necessitates actually doing something.
And let’s face it: Who needs advice? Who wants to actually do something? Here are 20 ways to ignore the experts—and wreck your chances of a financially comfortable retirement:
1. Keep thinking retirement is so far in the future that there’s no need to act now.

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Don’t Call Me That

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 25, 2019

YOU KNOW HOW certain things people say stick in your mind. Often, it’s a hurtful insult. But for me, the words I can’t forget are, “You’re wealthy.”
I live in a 90-year-old house on a small lot, my wife’s car is 12 years old, our television is 10 years old and the last time I bought a new suit was a dozen years ago. Okay, it’s true, I don’t wear suits very often these days.

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Happily Ever After

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 14, 2019

I’VE DISCOVERED THE solution for young people looking to save for retirement.
The typical engagement ring costs more than $6,300. Why so much? I recently learned there’s a rule that you should spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. That means a guy earning $48,000 a year is expected to spend $8,000. Where did such a rule come from? Turns out it was started by the De Beers company. Need I say more?

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The Office

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 5, 2019

AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS in the employee benefits profession, there are a few conversations that stand out—and they all relate to money. What people do, or don’t do, when it comes to money never ceases to amaze me. All the stories below are true.
I received a call from a recently deceased employee’s wife, followed by a call from the same employee’s other wife, both named Mary. One was in New Jersey and the other in South Carolina,

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Still Learning

Richard Quinn  |  Jan 23, 2019

FOR THE BETTER PART of 40 years, I spent a great deal of time helping thousands of workers prepare for retirement. We ran seminars for workers and spouses on topics like retirement income, insurance, lifestyle, relocation and more. I think it’s fair to say that, if someone took advantage of the programs offered, they would have been well prepared financially and emotionally for retirement.
Sadly, relatively few workers utilized all that was available to them—this despite the support and urging of the unions that represented them.

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Healthy Change?

Richard Quinn  |  Jan 8, 2019

SOME PEOPLE SEE Medicare-for-All as the utopia for health care, resulting in lower costs, higher quality and universal coverage. Others see M4A—a common shorthand for Medicare-for-All—as destroying health care in America, with total control residing in the hands of government bureaucrats.
Neither assessment is correct. Consider eight points:

Every health care system in the world has problems. Each system struggles with rising costs driven by factors like aging populations, development of new drugs and new medical technology,

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