OUR SOUTH JERSEY beach town transforms from empty to overrun during the summer. This past July 4th weekend was one of the busiest many of us had ever experienced. On these occasions, parking spaces go from a mass-produced commodity to the rarest of diamonds.
We had company for the weekend, so we had to park four cars instead of the usual three. Before the weekend, we grabbed a desirable spot in front of our house and vowed never to move it.
FOR OUR SUMMER vacation, my family traveled from California to South Carolina. My wife and daughter opted to fly, but my son and I saw it as an opportunity to take a cross-country road trip with our goldendoodle, Poppy. Here are three observations from our journey along Interstate 40:
Summer 2021 may not be a good time to buy a car. We saw dozens of car dealerships as we traveled. In nearly every case,
THE HEADLINE GRABBED my attention—because it seemed to speak to my situation: “Planning for Retirement: Women in Two-Income Households at Highest Risk.” The article suggested that women in their 50s in two-income households are at greater risk of being unable to maintain their preretirement standard of living when compared to single women and women in one-income households.
A big factor: Dual-income households tend to save a smaller percentage of their income compared with single-income households.
I ALMOST MADE a waitress cry yesterday. It isn’t what you think. I didn’t yell at her for poor service. Quite the contrary.
My wife and I went out for lunch at an Irish pub. I noticed the help wanted ad on the front door as we went inside. When it came time to pay our bill, I simply shared my heartfelt appreciation that she was willing to work and serve us in the midst of the current labor shortage.
WHEN LYING IN BED at night, I sometimes hear the horn from the distant train that once took my wife and me to San Diego. We used to ride that train to its last stop, which was walking distance to our hotel. From the hotel, we would then walk to Petco Park to catch a baseball game. After the game, we’d head over to the Gaslamp Quarter and choose a nice restaurant for dinner.
A FEW DAYS AGO, I drove up to a JP Morgan Chase ATM to make a cash withdrawal. The infernal machine not only wouldn’t spit out the cash or a receipt, but also it was a struggle even to get my card back. I parked and went inside, expecting a quick resolution.
The teller told me that she could see on her computer that my account was dinged for the cash withdrawal. But she also told me that the ATMs are managed by a third-party vendor,
YOU CAN ADD ANOTHER item to the list of things in short supply: Up here in Maine, used boats are hard to find.
“You can’t buy a house, a car or a boat this summer,” said Sean, manager of the local lobster dock in Bremen, Maine. Luckily, you can still buy lobsters from Sean, though they’re mighty pricey.
Every afternoon, scuffed-up boats with names like Chomper and Sandollar glide up to the dock to winch their catch up to Sean’s lobster tanks.
WE LOOK AT OUR traditional IRAs each year and decide how much we’ll convert to a Roth IRA. We’re worried our tax rate may increase down the road, either because of tax law changes or because of the extra taxable income once we start taking required minimum IRA distributions at age 72. To head off that threat or at least limit the damage, we’ve been shrinking our traditional IRAs by converting them to Roths,
SERIES I SAVINGS bonds have lately garnered a lot of investor interest because—if you buy during the current six-month purchase period—your initial annualized interest rate will be 3.54%. You’ll only earn that for the first six months. Thereafter, your yield will match the inflation rate. For bonds purchased between May and October, there’s no additional interest paid, over and above the inflation rate.
Still, the higher inflation climbs, the more interest your I bonds will earn.
FOUR OF CANADA’S five biggest banks recently announced they’re going to raise service charges, even though they continue to rake in billions in profits. Taking advantage of people, when they’re struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, is beyond comprehension—and it’s in direct conflict with my values.
In their defense, the banks stated that the increases were made after careful consideration and that other options were available to customers. This is classic bank-speak.
MY EMPLOYER’S 401(K) plan is great, with a generous matching contribution and lots of investment options. Those looking for even more choice can open a brokerage subaccount within the 401(k), allowing them to buy thousands of securities.
I’ve stayed away from the brokerage option, in part because I feared the extra choice might affect my investment discipline. But my growing anxiety about inflation forced me to reconsider.
I want a predictable cash reserve to cover my expenses for the next 10 years,
OFTEN WRONG, never in doubt. That describes many economic prognosticators. A rational response: Treat their predictions like hazardous waste—handle with caution, or better yet, don’t handle at all.
Among the countless examples, consider newsletter writer Harry Dent. Armed with a Harvard MBA, Dent makes market predictions that are fantastic and frequently wrong. In late April and more recently in June, he predicted that the market would crash, adding that if he’s wrong, he would quit his job.
THOSE WHO FOLLOW financial news know that mid-to-late July is the middle of earnings season. While I enjoy learning how companies are performing, I also get agitated by the way the media reports earnings information.
Having spent more than 20 years in corporate finance, I know the rigor involved in preparing earnings reports. Company accountants usually take one-to-two weeks to compile financial results, which then are reviewed by external auditors. In addition, investor relations,
AS JULY BEGAN, there was happy news for Chase Freedom Visa cardholders like me: One of the categories for 5% rewards this quarter is grocery stores. We spend a lot on groceries, which means I’ll get a nice cash reward from Chase.
I’m a big believer in credit card cash rewards for two reasons. First, of course, there’s the reward money. The second reason is psychological: Credit card companies are notorious for the outrageous interest and fees they exact from anyone who doesn’t pay off every nickel every month,
IT’S SOCIETY’S responsibility to provide for those in need. “Need” is the key word here. It bothers me that so many resources are directed to those of us who made it to old age.
Although there are many low-income seniors, the generalization that we’re all income-challenged is a fallacy. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The poverty rate for individuals aged 65 and older historically was higher than the rates for adults aged 18-64 and children under the age of 18,