AN UNPLEASANT PRICE shock awaits those who grew up in a low-cost-of-living nation and then relocate to a high-cost country. Coming from India, I experienced it firsthand, as I routinely converted prices into Indian rupees and compared them to the cost of similar items back home. In my initial years abroad, this made it challenging to open my wallet. Everything appeared overpriced.
It took time to come to terms with the fact that, despite higher living costs,
WHETHER MONEY BUYS happiness is a matter of debate, but a recent incident reinforced my conviction that financial security does indeed help. The incident would’ve caused me considerable distress a few years ago, when I was earning more but was still dependent on my fulltime job’s paycheck. My newfound financial security, however, transformed the situation into a truly memorable experience.
My wife, Bonny, and I both enjoy attending Indian music and dance performances. We make it a point to see the live shows put on by local groups and,
WHEN I SET OUT TO improve my financial knowledge, sites like HumbleDollar didn’t exist. Instead, I garnered insights from books, investment seminars and like-minded people. Still, my greatest lessons came from my own financial mistakes.
I’ve made many, and I still occasionally stumble. A few missteps were costly and had lasting repercussions, but the rest were less damaging, especially considering the lessons I learned from them. Here are six of what I call my “affordable mistakes.”
LIKE MANY IMMIGRANTS living in the U.S., I regularly return to my hometown to visit family and friends. My trips to Kolkata are usually short and jam-packed, seeing not just contemporaries, but also the older generation, including aunts and uncles, my parents’ friends and my friends’ parents.
My two recent visits—one last fall and the other this spring—were no exception, but I had mixed feelings this time. Most of the older generation are now in their 70s and early 80s,
BACK IN 1989, AS I was finishing the final semester of my undergraduate degree in India, I managed to bag two decent job offers. The first was from a government organization in my hometown, and the second was from an out-of-state private company in western India. I had a few weeks to make up my mind.
I was leaning toward the second offer. Not only did the idea of living on my own in a faraway town sound adventurous,
HOW WE SPEND DEPENDS on how we feel about money.
To be sure, we’re supposed to spend according to our financial situation and needs. But life experiences can so badly distort our attitude toward money that our financial decisions end up being ruled by fear and insecurity rather than questions of affordability. Such is the case with an acquaintance—let’s call her Satee—whose money habits are at odds with her financial standing.
Satee grew up in a typical Indian family of four.
I’M A BIT EMBARRASSED to admit that, until I started toying with the idea of early retirement a few years ago, I was pretty ignorant about how Social Security worked. I didn’t even pay much attention to the FICA payroll taxes that were deducted from my paycheck.
As I looked into it some more, the prospect of receiving lifelong monthly checks from the government came as a pleasant surprise. I started researching how much I might get.
WHEN RESTRICTIONS ON travel eased this year, I visited Kolkata, India, where I grew up and my mother still lives. The airline ticket and other travel costs were almost 75% higher than my last visit four years ago.
This year, I’ve grown used to price shocks at every turn, from groceries to gas, so the steep ticket price didn’t shock me. What did surprise me was my feeling of affluence once I arrived.
Traveling to a low-cost country as a tourist doesn’t necessarily feel like a bargain because most items still have an international price tag.
INFLATION CROPS UP in almost every conversation I have with friends and acquaintances. Everyone’s getting squeezed by higher prices. Folks complain not only about where prices are today, but also about how quickly they rose.
Prices today seem shocking compared to last year or the year before that. But how do they compare to prices from 10 years ago? To find out, I calculated the average annual inflation rate over trailing 10-year periods using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
I ENVY THOSE WHO can remain patient and calm in almost any situation. Thanks to my neurotic personality, I find it hard to wait for an outcome over which I have little control. This year, I narrowly escaped that sort of agonizing experience. What happened? We found ourselves selling our home during 2022’s suddenly cooling real estate market.
I was surprised last year when the red-hot property market pushed our modest home past the $1 million mark.
THE AGE-OLD DEBATE about not borrowing to buy depreciating assets came up again in a recent HumbleDollar article. Despite being a big proponent of debt-free living, I could relate to the story of borrowing to buy a car. In fact, I’m guilty of having gone deeply into debt in my younger days to feed my passion for music—and I don’t regret it.
I grew up listening to Indian music of various genres,
DO YOU INVEST IN options? Think twice before saying that you’d rather go to Vegas. My bold claim: Options investing has a lot in common with investing in stocks and corporate bonds.
Intrigued? Let’s recap a European style call option. It’s a discretionary contract that allows someone to buy an underlying asset at a set strike price at a future date. Let’s say the buyer of the call, Bob, has an option on a stock with a strike price of $100.
I WAS PLEASANTLY surprised recently when a lump-sum dividend payment showed up in my brokerage account. It was from a preferred stock I bought a few years ago to boost my investment income. The windfall reminded me of the three criteria I’d used to screen preferred shares:
Taxation. Unlike bond payments, which are taxed as ordinary income, the income payments from most—but not all—preferred stocks enjoy the favorable tax treatment given to qualified dividends.
MY TAXES ROSE 50% in 2021. I’ve never paid so much before, not even during my peak earning years. I’m not upset about having to pay my fair share, but the extent of the increase puzzled me. After examining my tax return, I came away with a handful of insights.
To be sure, I wasn’t expecting a large refund. The reason: I suspected that a onetime employment windfall would cause me to owe money,
I RECENTLY WROTE about missing the chance to harvest tax losses. A reader decried this as market timing, which I found surprising. But on second thought, I can see where the reader was coming from.
Suppose we define market timing as any buy or sell decision that’s taken only when the time is right. Using this definition, I’m guilty as charged.
But if that’s the case, is all market timing bad? I’d argue it depends on the intent behind the action.