EARLIER THIS YEAR, HumbleDollar unveiled its Two-Minute Checkup. All you need to do is input up to nine pieces of information and it spits out advice covering 10 areas of your financial life. When I tried it, I thought it was great—except for one thing. The amount it suggested my wife and I have in emergency cash was $13,000 higher than what we currently had.
I felt comfortable with the amount of cash we were holding,
SARAH AND I GOT married earlier this summer. We’ve always been on similar pages when it comes to money. We both track our finances with gusto. She’s one of the few people I know whose budgeting spreadsheets are more intricate than mine.
We both try to spend reasonably and save consistently. We’d rather devote money to a vacation or an occasional late-night pizza than to fancy things or swanky surroundings. One indication: During the pandemic’s initial lockdown,
MANY YEARS AGO, I read an article that posited that U.S. income inequality is due, in part, to the unwillingness of unemployed and underemployed Americans to move to a new state or city to take a better job.
It mentioned three reasons for this reluctance. First, folks didn’t want to sell their home, which may have decreased in value due to the recession that caused the bad job market in the first place. Second,
I RECENTLY LEFT MY job without having another lined up. Upon quitting, I noticed an immediate mindset shift: I went from thinking about how to grow my money to, instead, thinking about how to preserve it.
As a trained financial planner, I know that many workers will face a similar mental transition as they begin to wind down their careers. But I was surprised at how quickly it happened to me. After all, I’m only age 39,
IT’S ESTIMATED THAT up to $3 billion of unclaimed property is recovered every year. But another $49 billion is lost and still waiting to be claimed. How much of it is yours?
Whenever I check if I’m due anything, I always come up empty. But the memories of found money keep me checking and hoping something pops up. Who can ever forget finding that surprise dollar bill in the pocket of your recently washed jeans when you were 11 years old,
I’M WRITING THIS a few days after Hurricane Ida ravaged parts of our country. We were lucky. Our home here on the South Jersey coast was spared from all but minor rainfall. Much of Pennsylvania and North Jersey saw enormous amounts of rain, flooding and tornadoes. In my 64 years living in this region, I don’t recall there ever being this much severe weather, especially the number of tornadoes.
Prior to the hurricane landing in Louisiana,
WHEN I TELL FOLKS that they’ve just met the only guy to lose money on a house in New Castle, New Hampshire, they usually respond with great surprise.
The fact is, in good economic times and bad, it’s hard to lose money on a New Castle home. This quaint New England village—a collection of island connected by causeways—has the honor of having some of the highest-priced homes and lowest property taxes in New Hampshire,
CAN YOU EVER HAVE enough? Yes, I’m talking about money.
But I’m not some gazillionaire burning up billions on a rocket to space. I’m talking about emergency savings for ordinary people. A cash stash. Rainy-day funds. Mattress money.
I thought I had enough a few months ago, but then life happened. Dental work. A blown clutch. More support for my son, who has a great job offer but won’t start work until later this year.
CONGRATULATIONS, your family has grown with the arrival of a first child or grandchild. As the celebration subsides, reality sets in: You want to do everything you can to pave the way for a secure future.
For new parents, the first step is to obtain two basic documents that’ll last a lifetime: a birth certificate and Social Security card. The hospital will start the process, but you need to be diligent. Is the name spelled correctly?
IF YOU’RE MARRIED, it’s almost certain that one of you will outlive the other—perhaps by many years. What are the financial implications? Here are 10 issues to keep in mind:
1. Social Security. For a married couple, their Social Security benefits can consist of two workers’ benefits or a worker’s benefit and a spousal benefit. On the death of either spouse, the remaining benefit is the higher of the two benefits. For instance,
EMERGENCY MONEY is dead money—and it’s rarely looked more dead.
Just as we shouldn’t carry more insurance coverage than we really need, we shouldn’t hold more emergency cash than necessary. Why not? Excessive money spent on insurance and kept in our emergency reserve will likely come with a hefty opportunity cost. Indeed, thanks to the double whammy of inflation and taxes, our cash reserve will slowly depreciate, and that’s especially true given today’s rock-bottom interest rates.
COMMON WISDOM TELLS us that we all pay taxes and that we all die. As a semi-retired minister, financial coach and tax preparer, I’ve gained an unusual appreciation for these two certainties of life. But never more so than this year.
I began my first congregational ministry in August 2001, two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The first class I offered was titled A Year to Live, in which we met over 12 months to plan and prepare as if we would die at the end of the year.
WHEN WE MOVED to California from India in spring 2014, it was a culture shock—and not just because of the much higher standard of living. Financial life in the U.S. is very different. Here are just some of the surprises that my husband and I have encountered over the past seven years:
Health care. I remember walking into my first U.S. doctor’s appointment. I froze—unaware that I had to pay a $50 copay for each visit,
I JUST CAME ACROSS a magazine article from the B.C. era—before coronavirus. The article, which appeared in a popular personal finance magazine, described a certain type of bond investment. The writeup was well researched and balanced, including a discussion of various risks.
In fact, the author raised the possibility of an economic downturn. How did he assess that prospect? “Recession, as always, is a risk,” he wrote, “but where’s the recession? Not seeing it,
DESPITE MY independent nature, I called family and friends after my injury. I thanked them for what they’d already done following my husband’s death—and requested additional, more intensive support.
One aunt, a government employee, arranged to work for a week at a nearby federal building. My sister-in-law also came for a week, and a cousin who is a nurse volunteered, too. A professional colleague parked her RV in the driveway and brought along her friendly pooch.