CHRISTMAS 1981. The location was Huntington Beach, California, and I was visiting my grandparents’ retirement community. It was sunny and 70 degrees, with a mild ocean breeze. Despite the temperate weather, I had poured my six-year-old self into an itchy sweater for the annual holiday party. We sang carols, ate store-bought cookies and drank Kool-Aid. The climax was Santa passing out gifts toward the end of the celebration.
It was no secret that grandparents would plant the gifts with Santa.
MY FIRST ALLOWANCE was a nickel a week. I was five years old. I can’t recall exactly how I spent it, but I vividly remember visiting cousins and discovering they received a quarter.
It was a shocking introduction to a world where people might have much more, for no clear reason. My access to capital amounted to 52 nickels a year, or $2.60. Added to that was $1 reliably tucked in my Christmas stocking,
RECENT NEWS ARTICLES have noted the sharp increase in early retirements, many triggered by the pandemic. Just over 50% of Americans age 55 and older are now retired, a two percentage point increase from 2019, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
I have several friends and colleagues who are bucking that trend and instead delaying their retirement. They’re financially set but concerned about the transition from fulltime work to “doing nothing.” Yet some of these same workers are also struggling with changes in their companies and industries.
IF YOU ASKED ME about my financial life, I could regale you with stories about working the swing shift at the local chemical plant, or the rental properties I’ve invested in, or my efforts to make a living as a professional wrestler. But instead, I’m going to tell you about the coffee shop—so perhaps you can learn from my biggest financial blunder.
In 2009, as the financial world was falling apart around us, I saw a classified ad describing a small business for sale.
WE OFTEN WRITE at HumbleDollar that saving and investing aren’t everything. Spending money on the right things—such as fulfilling experiences—can also be a great investment, especially if the dollars bring ample happiness.
Nearly seven years ago, I thought I’d wasted $4,000 on a foreign trip. But the law of unintended consequences has since worked in my favor.
The 2015 trip was supposed to be an investment in my career. I thought I could make a difference in the world and become a freelance foreign correspondent.
MY YEAR BEGAN WITH a fulltime job at an energy trading company. But I knew my days were numbered. I’d spent six years trading, working with clients and helping to manage risk, all while being surrounded by smart and fun people. But as side gigs, I’d also spent several years writing about finance and teaching as an adjunct professor. Writing became my passion—one that didn’t mesh well with my day job.
That’s how, in January,
AS A MEMBER of the lucky sperm club, I reluctantly joined my father in business in 1970. I know it was his dream, but it wasn’t mine. He started his cash register business in 1938 and, by the time I signed on, the industry was still steep in mechanical devices. Not my passion. I liked electronics.
Still, I agreed to do things his way and learn the business from the ground up. He said the first thing I had to do was learn to sell.
MY FRIEND HAFIZ has a common midlife problem. He’s built a successful career over 20 years. But now he wants a change—a new direction to focus his energy and talents. Over coffee, we kicked around the different paths he might take.
Some were offshoots of his current job, such as becoming an industry consultant. Others were wholly new, like becoming a writer.
“The problem,” Hafiz sighed, “is that whatever I do, it’s gotta pay for the country club.”
Hafiz explained that,
IN THE FALL OF 1994, when I was 21, I made the trip south from Iowa down I-35 to Texas. I was starting my wrestling training on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas at Doug’s Gym.
What I wasn’t expecting were the financial lessons I picked up from some of the colorful professional wrestlers of that era.
Doug’s Gym wasn’t air-conditioned. It had a classic collection of weights and machines. I felt transported back in time,
A STRANGE THING is happening in corporate America right now.
The job market is booming, and companies are offering bonuses and salary increases to find and keep good people. Yet experienced workers are leaving their jobs in droves. The Labor Department reported that a record number of Americans have recently quit their jobs, part of what pundits are calling “the Great Resignation.”
I’m one of them. After 30 years leading global communications and public relations programs for multi-billion-dollar technology companies,
I MAY BE THE POSTER child for the new retirement, switching back and forth between standard employment and side gigs, as I seek work that I find fulfilling. I’m not alone: It seems many people are retiring earlier than they planned and then working part-time, moving in and out of the workforce based on need and opportunity.
The annual Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that—while workers expect to retire at age 65—the median retirement age is actually 62.
I LEFT MY CORPORATE job a year ago to start a second career in higher education. At the time, I offered five pieces of advice to those considering a similar change. That advice included creating a plan with your family, giving your desired new career a test drive and taking advantage of deferred compensation plans. A year into my new career change, here are four additional tips:
1. Estimate the point of no return.
IS SUCCESS WITHIN reach for anybody willing to work hard? We like to think of the U.S. as a meritocracy with a one-to-one correlation between effort and achievement. It’s a notion that allows us to feel that we’re in control of our destiny and that we’ve fully earned the success we enjoy.
But in truth, there are many factors that continue to tilt the playing field one way or another. Socioeconomic status, race and gender still sway the game.
GROWING UP, I WAS heavily influenced by the ideals of the Protestant work ethic. Working hard and finding career success provided great satisfaction, so I assumed I’d handle the second half of my life in the same way as the first.
This wasn’t a great plan.
I was around age 50 when I came across the writings of psychiatrist Carl Jung and his discussion of the two halves of life. For me, the timing couldn’t have been better.
AT A RECENT FAMILY event, some of the younger adults were asking their uncle what investments they ought to buy. The uncle is a veteran finance professional with a background in alternative investments.
The young men, all in their early 20s, were just starting their careers. They wanted his opinion on hot stocks, cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). One of them had recently made several hundred dollars buying and selling an NFT of an NBA image.