“I WOULD SAY TO the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering…. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs—victory in spite of all terror—victory, however long and hard the road may be,
WALL STREET WAS stunned Friday morning by the strength of the jobs market. While technology company layoffs have lately hijacked the fear-mongering media’s narrative, the truth is that the employment picture is quite strong.
With a 517,000 gain in net employment last month, along with ebbing wage growth, the “soft landing” crowd is one big step closer to winning the battle against the recession prognosticators. True, January’s jobs jolt is merely one data point.
IT’S HUMAN NATURE to be impressed by things that sound sophisticated or seem complex. In the world of personal finance, this certainly applies to the planning tool known as Monte Carlo analysis.
Its roots go back to the 1940s, when it was developed by Stanislaw Ulam, a physicist working on the Manhattan Project. Today, it’s a popular way to assess the strength of a proposed retirement plan. If you’ve seen presentations indicating that a financial plan has a particular probability of success,
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.
RUNNING OUT OF MONEY is retirement’s biggest financial risk—though this, of course, never actually happens. Thanks to Social Security, almost all retirees will have some monthly income, no matter how long they live.
Still, Social Security alone probably won’t make for a comfortable retirement, though it is the financial cornerstone for many. In fact, Social Security accounts for at least 50% of income for half of retirees. That includes a quarter of those age 65 and up for whom their monthly benefit is at least 90% of their income—a statistic I find shocking.
MONEY IS OFTEN TIGHT for those in their 20s. Yes, that first “adult” job typically pays more than any previous job. Still, finding money to save and invest can be tough. After handling all the other big expenses of early adulthood—house, wedding, student loans—there just isn’t much money left over.
That’s my dilemma and one facing many others in their 20s. How can we make extra money without getting a second job? My fiancée and I focus on earning money just by living.
AS A REGULAR READER of HumbleDollar, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, I pick up all kinds of pointers on investing. And the more I read, the more I think I may have been doing it wrong all these years. My approach to picking investments is more aligned with a dartboard than a spreadsheet.
I’ve never owned an exchange-traded fund. I don’t know what the VIX is,
I ENJOY WRITING for HumbleDollar—but I often feel I get more from the thoughtful reader comments than whatever insights I provided. For instance, in a recent article, I discussed some year-end financial decisions I was considering. Two readers made comments that caused me to review my decisions, while also delivering a few dollars’ worth of humility.
The first comment identified an error in my spreadsheet analysis. I noted that my marginal New Jersey state income-tax rate was 8.97%.
I ADMIRE SUPER-SAVERS. I really do.
You know who I’m talking about: Ordinary people making ordinary salaries who are somehow able to sock away half or more of their disposable income and who accumulate enough to step away from the working world long before the rest of us.
We hear about these people all the time on podcasts. The couple who banked $1 million over the course of a decade by scrimping and saving.
HERE ARE MY TEN favorite articles that I’ve written over the three-plus years I’ve been a part of the HumbleDollar community. Although I write my share of technical and analytical articles, the ones I like the most have a human element.
As my wife will attest, I’m a bit of a softy, and care deeply about my family and friends. I like happy endings and want to see people succeed, especially the generations to come.
AT A DINNER THAT I attended recently, someone pointed out that a high percentage of us were newly retired. That included me, as well as a couple who were just reaching age 60. After the dinner, the wife of the couple told me she was offended by being called retired. She’s writing fiction every day and her husband does some consulting work.
The work they’re doing pays, but it’s not by itself enough for them to live their comfortable,
READERS LOVE LISTS. For proof, look no further than our (ahem) list of January’s 10 most popular articles. Seven of those articles took the form of lists, and their readership helped propel HumbleDollar to its second-best month ever for pageviews.
“I suggest skipping the step of building up an emergency fund—in cash, that is,” writes Chuck Wilson. “I’m willing to bet that only a small minority truly use it for emergencies only.”
I ONLY WOKE UP TO the notion of financial independence at age 50. I’d been asleep at the financial wheel and almost crashed. It had been a 20-year Rip Van Winkle slumber. I realized suddenly that I had an irresponsible, unconscious and unintentional money mindset.
I could offer plenty of excuses, but they don’t make me feel better. Shame, grief and disbelief overcame me initially. At times, regret still haunts me. We had lost so much time without taking care of our future.
NOW THAT I’M RETIRED—and living in a warm desert climate—walking has become one of my favorite activities. Most days, I log between six and eight miles trekking around our neighborhood. I usually listen to a podcast during my journey, but it just serves as background noise. My real focus is contemplating dog training strategies or the subject matter of my future HumbleDollar posts.
Some days, I play the “what if” game.
I’LL TURN AGE 72 this year. Since I’ve retired, my wife and I have had some wonderful experiences. Our travel adventures are full of great memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Still, as great as those adventures have been, they aren’t nearly as important to our happiness as living a healthy, pain-free life without physical or mental limitations. That’s something that’s hard to beat. It gives you a different outlook.