A LOT OF INK HAS been spilled over young people’s spending decisions and the impact on retirement savings. Whether it’s a latte or a lunch out, the thinking goes, we all spend money on daily trifles that rob us of a much greater sum in the future. Back in 2019, Suze Orman made headlines when she likened a daily takeout coffee habit to “peeing $1 million down the drain.”
I’m sympathetic to this line of thinking,
SINCE FIRST venturing outside the U.S. 14 years ago, I’ve come to realize the tremendous value that travel offers.
I began writing this article in Buenos Aires 18 months ago, shortly before a cruise around South America. We sailed on March 6, 2020—and it didn’t turn out so well. But I’m not deterred. As Mark Twain observed, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” I second that.
MY TWINS ARE OFF to college. They’re on different paths. One is attending an institution less than 100 miles from home, while the other will be on the far side of the continent. One has a full-ride package of financial aid from her chosen college. The other isn’t getting as much.
Every morning this past week, I’ve intended to pay the first semester for the twin who didn’t get a full ride. I have the cash.
I’M NOT SURE HOW anyone can achieve financial peace and prosperity without addressing the “b” word—budgeting.
I got my first credit card in my late teens. I bragged that—in my wallet—I had whatever my credit limit was and could do anything I wanted with it. By my early 20s, I was in credit-card debt. But as long as I could pay the monthly minimum, I didn’t think I had a problem. Of course, the interest rate was astronomically high—sadly,
ONCE IT LOOKED SAFE to travel again, I didn’t waste any time. I jumped on a plane and spent three weeks in the Carolinas. It was a great vacation.
Staying in an Airbnb on Hilton Head Island gave me a much-needed chance to recharge while enjoying the beach. Renting a place on Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in North Carolina, gave me quality time with two of my grandchildren. It was like breathing freedom again after the long COVID-19 lockdown.
MY SPRING CLEANING this year was less eventful than last year’s, except I found my fanny pack. I bought it in the early 1990s but misplaced it some years ago. It was so handy for air travel, especially international trips, that I ignored all fashion worries.
I forgot what I paid for the fanny pack, but it was certainly one of my best buys. Frankly, only a few such purchases stand out. Here’s my list of half-a-dozen similar items.
I’VE WORKED AS a financial advisor for 25 years and yet I’m still struck by how many people fall for one of the oldest cons in the book: keeping up with the Joneses.
Being ostentatious is no longer seen as déclassé, at least in America. Instead, it’s a requirement for reality TV, the currency of Instagram Influencers and a proxy for achievement on Facebook. Why be rich when we can appear rich?
We’re hardwired to act this way.
WE INCREASINGLY DO business with gigantic impersonal companies: banks, insurers, credit card issuers, cable and phone companies, utilities, and huge retailers like Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart. Often, we deal with them at a distance—by phone, mail, and especially online or via email.
When disputes or problems arise, we’re typically forced to contact their so-called customer service departments, which are often sorely lacking in service. Even before getting to a human, we have to run the gauntlet of an annoying robot,
I GREW UP IN a middle-class family in Kolkata, India. Like most folks, my relationship with money was shaped by my parents’ financial habits. They were on different sides of the saver-spender continuum. My homemaking mother strove to live beneath our family’s means and never seemed to feel deprived. By contrast, my father—even with a modest salary from his government job—was focused on the art of spending.
At my mother’s insistence, my father bought most of our household supplies from wholesalers and cooperative stores,
WE ARE STARTING from scratch. After living in Spain for three years, Jiab and I have returned to Dallas to be closer to family. We still have a home here, but—when we left three years ago—we sold all our furniture, cars and many other possessions to reduce storage costs. Now we have to reacquire those things that make living possible.
Fortunately, Jiab and I share a similar outlook as we reaccumulate. That outlook is inspired by Thorstein Veblen,
MY WIFE AND I usually finish dinner by 6:30 pm. She then heads upstairs, while I stay downstairs until 7:30. You can find me walking around in circles in the living room and dining room during that time. I like to think I’m walking off my meal or regenerating new brain cells. You see, I’ve been reading a book by Sanjay Gupta, Keep Sharp, where he points out that moving is good for the brain.
IT BEGAN AS A trickle. Now, it’s a flood—and my family’s been swept up in it. For the past decade, we’ve streamed on-demand movies and Netflix shows, but we also continued to pay far too much for live TV using either cable or satellite services. No longer.
As Jannette Collins noted in a recent article, there are now numerous internet streaming services, including some free options. Our family has used some of these, but we still kept costly TV service for live broadcasts of news,
IN SEPTEMBER 2017, my wife and I sold our home, our car and almost all of our earthly possessions. What remained fit in a storage pod measuring 12 feet by eight feet by eight feet. We then spent the next three years traveling across four continents and staying in more than 200 rooms. Along the way, I learned a few things about booking lodgings that could make your travels a little cheaper.
We used Airbnb 40% of the time and Booking 35%.
BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, my father and I would go out for coffee every Saturday morning. I would order a venti mocha Frappuccino with soymilk, which would cost $6, while he would opt for a tall dark roast, black, price $2.50.
As I ordered, my dad would joke, “You millennials and your avocado toast.” In fact, my dad had the same reaction to many of my spending habits. “You spent $50 on a shirt?” he’d ask me,
IF YOU’RE ONE of the lucky ones in this COVID-19 economy, with a job and the wherewithal to buy holiday gifts for friends or family, here are five eclectic tech gift ideas for budgets small, large and XXL:
1. Ergonomic Desk. The pandemic has many of us working from home. After a couple months of this, my back, neck and forearms cried out for the ergonomic desk I had at the office.