ONE OF MY GOALS is not to think about money. This might sound odd coming from someone who has written about money for 34 years, runs a financial website and, indeed, wrote a book entitled How to Think About Money. So let me clarify: I’m happy to think about money in general. I’m even happy to think about your money. I just don’t want to think about my own.
I used to think about my finances all the time.
HAVE YOU protected your paycheck? As I discussed in my article last week, becoming disabled is a serious financial risk—and typically the best way to get coverage is through your employer. What if you don’t have long-term disability insurance through work or if coverage isn’t sufficient? An individual long-term disability policy can fill the gap.
Disability insurance is one of the more complicated products to price, because insurers need to assess two dimensions of risk.
SHOULD THOSE of us who are better off financially feel guilty? When I read about income inequality, folks living paycheck to paycheck and the like, I occasionally feel a twinge of guilt. But it quickly passes.
This lack of guilt doesn’t imply a lack of empathy on my part or that of others who have been financially successful. Indeed, wealth is frequently used to help others. Society has benefited greatly not just from the jobs created by the Rockefellers,
WHEN IT COMES to retirement planning, many Americans focus primarily on their portfolio’s size. That’s understandable. But there are other issues you should also think about, so you get your retirement on the right track and keep it there. Here are 11 steps to a better retirement:
Housing. As you get older, you become less mobile. Climbing stairs and getting up from a chair become more difficult. Keep this in mind when thinking about what house you’ll live in during retirement.
“JOURNALISM is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” It’s a quote that should be framed on the wall of every newsroom.
Of course, every journalist knows this. We call PR—public relations—the dark side. But most of us journalists stray into it far more often than we like to admit.
As a reporter, I cut my teeth at a group of regional newspapers in a prosperous part of England in 1989.
MY ELDERLY mother’s credit card was recently compromised. This required her to move all her automatic payments to a new credit card.
That, in turn, prompted her to reevaluate these various charges. Her cable bill, for instance, had gone up more than 15% over the past two years. My mother complained that, while she gets many channels, she only watches broadcast TV. She dropped the cable package.
As she added the autopay information to her new credit card,
IN DECEMBER 1954, 23-year-old John Neff hitchhiked from Ohio to New York in search of work. A Navy veteran, Neff had recently graduated college near the top of his class, with a degree in finance. His hope: to land a job as a stockbroker. But despite these qualifications, Neff was turned down. Why? According to a biographer, the brokerage firm felt “his voice didn’t carry enough authority.”
It didn’t take long for Neff to recover from this setback.
DECIDING WHETHER to buy bonds or pay down the mortgage used to be a tricky decision. Not anymore: Paying extra on your home loan will almost always be the right choice.
This takes some explaining—because it involves wrapping your head around the standard vs. itemized deduction, investment taxes, and a mortgage’s shifting mix of principal and interest.
First, let’s dispense with the obvious objection: Yes, if you’re inclined to buy stocks rather than pay down the mortgage,
MUCH CRITICISM is leveled against millennials, often defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. The criticism is frequently directed at their money and career decisions, including their purportedly foolish spending, excessive borrowing, job-hopping, self-absorption and sense of entitlement.
The perception is so pervasive that even millennials buy into this view of themselves.
But I wouldn’t be too quick to criticize millennials or compare them unfavorably to older generations. Each generation confronts its own unique challenges and difficulties,
IT CAN BE HARD to find time to make healthy meals, plus—with the convenience of fast food restaurants—why bother? It’s way easier to enter the drive-through at the local burger joint than it is to scramble together ingredients at home and make a healthier version.
But these decisions come at a cost, financial and otherwise. Most fast foods are loaded with sodium and calories, while lacking the nutrients you need for optimum health. This can lead to weight gain,
BE HONEST: When was the last time you thought about disability insurance? As co-founder of a website that sells insurance, it’s a topic I think about every day, but I realize most folks have other things on their mind. Yet becoming disabled is one of the biggest financial risks that working people face.
Disability can result from accidents or sickness and can impact people of all ages. According to the Social Security Administration, a 20-year-old entering the workforce has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled for a year or more before retirement.
YES, EDUCATION is invaluable. But should young adults go to college to obtain a piece of paper that may mean little in the real world? Is the student debt we hear so much about really worth it? Could pushing college attendance for all be as misguided as pushing homeownership for all?
I’m not against formal education. I put four children through college. In fact, I believe parents are obligated to cover their children’s college costs,
FOR MUCH of my adult life, my view of financial planning was similar to that of many others: Simply put, financial planning equaled investment management.
I spent my career in aerospace engineering, surrounded by highly educated, mathematically competent colleagues. I was lucky enough to span the transition from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans. My colleagues and I closely followed the market’s performance, our own company’s shares and emerging tech stocks. Some of the more mathematically inclined dabbled in options.
WHEN IT COMES to your financial life, should you care what other people think?
I’ve always found this a tricky question. On the one hand, it’s easy to fall into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses. If you care too much about what other people think, life can become very expensive—and that can be detrimental to your financial health.
On the other hand, it’s also natural to want to be accepted by one’s peers.
THINK OF IT as the ultimate financial Rorschach inkblot test. When you hear about the pitifully inadequate retirement savings of so many Americans, what’s your immediate reaction?
a) This is the inevitable result of stagnant wages coupled with soaring medical, education and other costs; or
b) This is what happens in a financially illiterate society with scant self-discipline and constant temptations to spend.
For me, these differing views were brought into sharp relief by two recent articles on HumbleDollar.