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Personal Finance


It’s the heart of the baseball season and, whereas 20 years ago talk about the sport would have centered on the All-Star Game, the trade deadline, and how the pennant races were shaping up, now the chatter is filled with terms like “Wins Above Replacement” and “Defense-Independent ERA.” For better or worse, advanced metrics have taken hold in baseball.

What is interesting about the transformation of so many sports nuts into statistics geeks is that Americans don’t generally apply the same quantitative rigor to their household finances. That’s a shame, because finance is far more suited to statistical analysis than baseball, and the right set of numbers can give you a clear, objective view of your financial condition. For example, here are a dozen metrics that could give you some valuable financial insight:

Wage growth. Obviously, how much you make is important, but the rate of change tells you where you are headed. If your wage growth is not keeping pace with inflation, then you are headed in the wrong direction. In contrast, if your wage growth is up in the high-single digit percentage range, you should be on your way to a wealthier future, even if you still have a ways to go at the moment.

Total compensation growth. While your wages have the most immediate impact on your lifestyle, don’t neglect the importance of benefits — things like 401(k) matching contributions, healthcare benefits, and other extras your employer might provide. People tend to take these benefits for granted when they have them, but they certainly miss them when they don’t. So, you should factor benefits into the value of any compensation package. Nationally, the total compensation growth rate fell to a low of 1.4 percent shortly after the Great Recession, but recently recovered to a six-year high of 2.6 percent, which is still somewhat meager.

After-tax growth. While pre-tax compensation measures how much you earn, it is after-tax compensation that really affects your lifestyle. If after-tax growth is lagging badly behind pre-tax growth, think about what you could do (e.g., tracking deductions better, moving to an area with lower taxes) to stop taxes from taking an ever-growing bite out of your income.

Spending growth. It’s bad enough if you have trouble making ends meet now; but if your spending is growing faster than your after-tax income, then you are on course for real trouble.

Savings growth. This is a reality check for the income and spending growth measurements. If income appears to be growing faster than spending, you should check to see if this is showing tangible results in the form of an increasing rate of savings growth.

Current net worth. An important measure of your financial progress is to tally up the current net value of everything you own. Two things to remember about doing this. First, the “net” part of this is very important — you have to subtract the amount of debt you owe from the value of any assets. Second, when you consider the value of any tax-deferred retirement savings, keep in mind you are likely to have to pay taxes on those savings when you ultimately access them.

Net worth growth rate. Financially, where you are now is often less important than where you are heading and the rate at which you are getting there.

Debt-to-income ratio. Having some debt can be a normal part of financial management, but the larger that debt grows to be relative to your income, the more you risk it getting out of control.

Debt-to-asset ratio. On a net worth basis, there may be little difference between having virtually no assets or debt on the one hand or having a large asset value offset by an equally large debt burden. However, the latter is riskier, because a setback in the value of your assets could suddenly leave you with a significantly negative net worth.

Retirement savings rate. The percentage of your income you put aside for retirement savings may start out small early in your career, but you should strive to get it into the double digits by the time you reach 30.

Projected retirement income. Use a retirement calculator to project what retirement income your savings program would produce. This will give you a glimpse of the lifestyle you are on track for at your current pace.

Projected retirement income gap. If your projected retirement income does not seem adequate for the lifestyle you want, measure how far it falls short and start to figure out how to close that gap.

No one statistic is the answer to assessing how healthy your finances are. Instead, these statistics are pieces of a mosaic giving you a glimpse at part of the picture. If sports fans these days can spend so much time obsessing over statistics, a little quantitative examination of your finances now and then shouldn’t be too big a burden.

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A few days ago I shared four personal finance “rules” I’ve broken. So-called rules sell books because they provide a way for an author to be declarative and have solid opinions, even when these rules have been around for a long time, repeat already well-known concepts, or aren’t appropriate for everyone.

Start saving for retirement when you start working.

And sometimes, the ideas are good in theory, but difficult in practice. And difficulty shouldn’t be an excuse. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices. For extraordinary results, you have to do things differently than most other people.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the motivational sales techniques. The bottom line is you can teach good financial behavior to students all you want, but it’s not going to have a positive impact on financial behavior. Imagine yourself without the financial help of friends and family, and perhaps without the financial support from a family throughout your entire life growing up. Now, after a receiving a degree from college because you knew that higher education is the surest path to life-long financial success regardless of the degree, you followed your passion and are in an entry-level position — perhaps even in a nonprofit organization where you are paid effectively much less than minimum wage for 80-hour work weeks.

You can’t consider your needs in retirement. It’s just not going to happen when you’re not even earning enough to pay for your food and housing. Urgent needs take precedence, and thinking about the future is a luxury that only some people have. You can’t look for other, more lucrative work because you only have time for your current job and sleep, and not much sleep at that. And when shiny, happy motivational people try to get you to see that all you have to do is change your “mindset,” you want to punch them. And you’re allowed to feel this way, because most of the time, the shiny, happy motivational people are so far removed from your situation that they have no capability to understand your life and empathize with you.

Well, that’s where I was when I was twenty-three and twenty-four years of age. As I mentioned the other day, I couldn’t save ten percent of my income, and I couldn’t think about retirement. No words from a financial advisor or a motivational speaker could change the fact I couldn’t afford my all-ready bare-bones existence. Getting out of that situation wouldn’t have been possible without a safety net, which in my case, was living with my father for free for a few months to change my life’s direction.

Spend less than you earn.

This is perhaps the core tenet of personal money management and getting started on a path to financial security and eventually financial independence. It makes mathematical sense. You only grow when you have a surplus. A business that never has profit will eventually fail. A person whose financial position deteriorates every month will eventually crash and burn.

Just out of college working in nonprofit, I could barely make this work; in fact, most of the time, I was simply unable to reduce my spending below my income, simply because I needed sustenance and shelter. So I had to break the same money rule I was reading about every day on the Motley Fool discussion boards. And I did not feel good about that. I mentioned that I only had time to work at my job and sleep; I took up much of that time available for sleeping to try to freelance. I offered my services as a web developer to a few companies, and probably worked too much for too little money.

Now that my situation has significantly improved, I’m once again breaking this rule. That’s after a decade of being mindful of my financial situation, from both income and expense perspectives. With a new job working fewer hours and making much more money, and while keeping my expenses low, I not only was able to meet my expenses, but I had time to focus on my own projects, which eventually resulted in being a proprietor of a multi-million dollar business.

Particularly in the last few months of last year, my income from working has been significantly down from before I sold that business. And I’ve been spending more than I’ve been earning from work. The good news, and why I can break this rule today, is that I can afford not to work. I have investments that should last me for the rest of my life, and these investments also generate income.

I haven’t been using this income so far, and I’ve been depleting my savings instead. Starting with this month, I’m changing that approach. I will continue to write for Consumerism Commentary and earn money as a writer, and I will supplement that working income with income from investments, at least until I’m free to work on some more lucrative projects. And I consider myself very fortunate to have this flexibility.

Keep six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

This rule comes in many forms. The “six months” idea seems to be the most popular, but I also like the idea of keeping a months’ worth of expenses in liquid savings for every percentage point of unemployment. Emergency savings should, among other things, keep you going in the event of the loss of a job. In times of high unemployment, it could take longer to find a job. And the more time you spend unemployed, the harder it will be to get a new job, as unemployment carries a pretty significant stigma among hiring managers.

My situation today permits some flexibility for me. And my situation at the beginning of my career would have prevented me from having any emergency fund. Many people will argue that you can start an emergency fund with as little as a dollar a week. This is true, and it’s probably affordable for just about anyone with a job, even minimum wage. But it’s going to take a long time to build a complete emergency fund with a dollar a week, especially if your living needs still exceed your income.

I’ve seen the popular year-long project in which you start with saving a dollar the first week a year and double that amount every week until the end of the year. This is a great idea if you have the capacity. But exponential savings can quickly climb to a requirement that’s unattainable for someone like the twenty-three year-old me.

Have life insurance valued six to ten times your annual income.

This might be a good rule for some people, but even as written, it’s pretty vague. There’s a big difference between carrying insurance at six times your income versus ten times your income.

I don’t carry any life insurance. The only reason I would possibly buy insurance now would be because it’s apparently cheaper to start now than wait until I’m older and my living situation warrants it. But that’s not a great reason; it’s like buying a second refrigerator just because it’s on sale and you expect your current refrigerator to stop working sometime within the next thirty years.

I have no children, no wife. There’s no one relying on my ability to earn income. That will probably change one day, but even if it does, because of my good fortune in business, I would have other options for caring for my loved ones after an untimely demise.

Rules are made to be broken. Well, that’s what they say. It’s a meaningless cliché, and in fact, rules are not made to be broken. But the personal finance rules you often read about, if you read financial blogs or books, or if you watch television shows, or if you’ve ever listened to a financial speaker who prefers the sound of his or her own voice, are usually nothing more than guidelines. Sometimes they are ideals. And in many cases, the reasons for not being able to “obey” are beyond your immediate control.

So please, when you read about rules of personal finance, keep your neurons engaged. And don’t feel guilty or inadequate if you feel you can’t meet someone else’s goal. And feel free to disagree and argue. Gurus like it when people don’t argue, and just go along with their words of wisdom. They will dismiss those who disagree, and accuse adversaries of “just not getting it.” They will call you jealous of their success rather than defending their views, because their views don’t always stand up to criticism, and calling names or attacking character is easier than discussing ideas intelligently.

What rules do you break?

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Thumb through any book about personal finance, money management, and investing written by an expert, and you’re bound to come across a number of rules dictating financial behavior. Sometimes the author-dictators believe their rules are unbreakable and chastise those who might think differently, while other writers leave room for flexibility. In general, the more powerful a brand behind the writer, the more likely he or she will ridicule and disparage those who are willing to put up an argument. That happens to be how cults succeed, as well; if you disagree, you’re shunned and embarrassed, but if you want to share in the glory of the brand, albeit in the shadow of the leader, toe the line and preach the truth.

Don’t get me wrong. People have created these rules over the years not to trap the public, but to provide some guidance. In most cases, the rules are good starting points, and the best way to communicate guidelines and to convince an audience to pay attention is to call them “rules.” Readers and listeners need to understand there are consequences for making bad decisions, but in order to make good decisions, there needs to be some sort of framework. That’s what these so-called rules provide.

But rule following doesn’t eliminate the need for reasoning. Now, not everyone is capable of financially-smart reasoning, and in the attempt to spread good messages and sell books, rule following can be an adequate replacement for self-awareness, contemplation, higher levels of cognition and understanding, and decision-making based on anticipating outcomes. Everybody needs guidance at some point in their lives, but mindless rule-following most often results in enrichment of the gurus who claim they have all the answers, and the answers are absolute.

There have been times in my life I have been willfully neglectful of the rules I’ve been reading about for years, and while my approach worked for me, it might not work for you. I bet many Consumerism Commentary readers have broken some of these same rules and not only lived to tell the tale, but thrived financially in spite, or in many cases because of those decisions.

Never buy a new car.

You should never buy a new car because the biggest depreciation is immediate. As soon as you drive off the lot, the car loses a lot of value. It’s better for someone else to pay for that, and smart people buy gently used cars.

I broke that rule when I bought a new 2004 Honda Civic LX in June 2004. And I made that purchase before I was done paying off my undergraduate student loan. (I earned that degree in 1999.) Civics were and are very economical cars to own, and the market knows that. Therefore, the price for “gently used” was close enough to “brand new,” and I needed to make sure my vehicle was as reliable as possible, so I made the purchase. The price differential wasn’t significant to me, and I paid the car loan off early.

Never rent a house when you can afford to buy.

In my early adult years, there was a lot of pressure to buy a house, and the housing boom seemed like a sure thing. Everyone was bragging about how the value of their homes was skyrocketing in value and preaching about how everyone should buy real estate as soon as they could. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have the money for a down payment at that time, because things got out of hand quickly. Real estate is not a guaranteed investment, and on average appreciates in line with inflation.

There is a mantra I still hear from time to time that renting is “throwing money away.” It’s not. It’s saving on major cost-of-living expenses that go into owning a home. And while you’re not building equity in an asset (by paying off a mortgage and waiting for asset appreciation), that asset is generally useless for anything but providing shelter until you sell it. And then you just buy another. There’s no need to lock up all your financial assets in a house.

Save at least ten percent of your income.

A good rule of thumb like this can just lead to frustration. When I first starting working out of college at my first major job (that is, not a substitute teacher, not a student-worker in my college’s library, but a good position at a nonprofit organization), the thought of saving ten percent of my income was unconscionable. I couldn’t even afford my rent, commutation, and grocery expenses. I ignored my student loan repayment because I needed to eat. The boss brought in a financial advisor and began offering a 403(b) plan — a 401(k) for nonprofit organizations — and I couldn’t spare anything from my paycheck to make a contribution.

It’s just as well — the fees on that 403(b) plan were outrageous.

And now that I’m in a different situation, financially independent, I’m not really in saving mode, even though I am earning money from working. Unless I start a new business, I’ll be in asset depletion mode.

Don’t use credit cards.

There are certainly some people who should never use credit cards. It can be argued that even people who use credit cards wisely, paying off the balance every month and earning cash back or other perks, are damaging their financial health through the psychological phenomenon of spending more for every abstraction layer further away from cold hard cash. Yes, there are times where I’ve spent money I wouldn’t have had I not had a plastic or electronic form of payment — most notably whenever I’ve ordered anything online. But overall, making conscious decisions about spending, training yourself to wait when there’s an urge to make an purchase based on an impulse, can help control that urge.

Not everyone has self control or a sense of financial consequences. I’m not saying I’m immune to the psychological effects of spending with credit cards, but it my informed judgments based on self-analysis, I see credit cards as a tool for organizing spending and earning benefits. Just yesterday, I received a $525 check from American Express in return for Membership Rewards.

In addition to these four rules I’ve broken, here are four more rules I break either today or have broken in the past. What personal finance rules do you willingly break?

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The self-help industry continues to produce hundreds of new books every year, explaining how people can live their lives, improve their identities, and build wealth towards financial independence. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, in particular. You never know when you’ll find an author, a blogger, or a friend who will put words in the right order, and the result is a connection that can change your life.

I know this from experience. Over the last decade, readers have contacted me privately to thank them for the information and the stories I’ve provided here, whether it’s a warning about a company you might not want to work with, or sharing my past mistakes in an effort to prevent others from making those same mistakes. When I realized I needed to make changes in my life, it wasn’t a guru, author, or blogger, or friend who opened my eyes. It was my own bad situation — the loss of a job, car, girlfriend, and apartment in a short time span. I had to make changes and then I found the Motley Fool’s “Living Below Your Means” message board.

The messages there, with thoughts from real people, not experts selling books or trying to attract pageviews, helped me come to terms with some changes I needed to make.

I already knew about the self-help industry. My first major job after college was with a company whose executive director lived and breathed life gurus and expensive brainwashing seminars. I never wanted any part of that.

The gurus of today owe a lot to philosophers of the past, Socrates and Plato in particular.

In fact, Socrates might have been considered a guru in his day. At least through the eyes of his student Plato, Socrates was a teacher. He placed a high importance of knowledge over ignorance, and knowledge even over winning an argument. This philosophy would prevent him from succeeding well within the media environment in the United States today, but his teachings have stood the test of time.

Because much of we know about Socrates comes from the writings of his protege Plato, it’s hard to know how much of of what we know about the philosophies of Socrates is filtered through Plato’s own philosophies. Keep that in mind as I continue to look through some specific examples of how Socrates and Plato have paved the way for modern thoughts about life and money.

The examined life.

In Apology, Socrates discusses self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, self-awareness, the examined life — these are all different ways of saying that in order to become a functional human being, you have to know who you are right now and accept who you are today before you can move forward.

This is a good way to sum up the initial purpose of Consumerism Commentary, and how I approached my finances in the two years or so leading up to starting this website, from about the year 2001. One of the first steps to improving your finances is taking an inventory of what you own and owe — your assets and liabilities. That gives you knowledge of your financial self, at least in one snapshot of time.

But beyond the dollars and cents, you also have to know who you are. Identify the habits you have and why you have them. Identify your core beliefs about money and wealth, especially if they are holding you back. Take some time to think about your values and what kind of life is important to you. Think about your history and whether you might have been subject to any biases as you were forming your values.

Only with a full understanding, after examining your life as it is today, will you be able to make the best decisions about where to go, how to behave, and who to be.

Learn from others’ writings.

Again, this represents my core approach to Consumerism Commesntary. It’s such a difficult lesson, though. The best teacher is often experience. Someone could tell you a hundred times not to stick a pair of scissors in an electrical socket. You could know that it’s probably a bad idea. But, you still do it anyway, and the result is you’re thrown across the room. Yes, that is a mistake I made when I was a child. Perhaps it explains much about me. Or perhaps it just shows that sometimes you often can’t comprehend consequences until you face them yourself.

People in the developed world know that being in debt is bad. They know that spending more than one has in income will cause major problems in life after a while. They understand that negative net worth is bad, and they understand the basic arithmetic that quantifies that result. But this knowledge generally doesn’t prevent people from finding themselves in uncontrollable debt due to overspending. The reasons people spend money often outweigh the potential for negative outcomes in the future.

So this is why writers try to warn others about the dangers of debt. They tell their own stories in the hopes that they will connect with someone and prevent them from learning the “hard way.” Socrates wants people to learn from others, just like bloggers do.

Socrates on contentment.

Happiness was an important part of the philosophy of Socrates. And over the last few years, one idea of his started to become popular again, especially as a series of different academic studies set out to prove similar theories. There is a relationship between money and happiness. One survey pinned a happiness plateau on a certain annual salary, and claimed that increases in income above that identified salary did not have a strong effect on happiness. Another survey showed that your happiness with your financial situation has more correlation with how you perceive your situation when compared to your friends and colleagues.

The increase in popularity for a frugal lifestyle, including downsizing living arrangements, adopting the minimalist culture, and spending money on experiences rather than objects, has been partially amplified by the latest major recession and, in many cases, borne out of a need (a lack of financial resources).

Socrates — or perhaps Plato — is likely smiling in his grave. Socrates is quoted: “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” How many writers and bloggers, including myself, have said something similar? If you can be content with less, you will not maintain a constant desire for more.

Socrates also found fault with both wealth and poverty, through Plato’s illumination of his teaching in the latter’s Republic. Both destroy someone’s ability to produce good. As one becomes wealthy and doesn’t need to work for money, he can become lazy in his endeavors and work and other contributions to the world suffer due to a lack of financial motivation; poverty, on the other hand, deprives one from the resources necessary in order to do the best work.

“Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence, and the other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.”

Morality is more important than wealth.

The desire for wealth pulls people away from moral imperatives. I’ve seen this personally. With money on the line, people will often lie, cheat, steal, and extort if they’re in a position to do so. We encourage entrepreneurs and CEOs to be greedy, not just because Wall Street and large institutional investors require it of them, but because today’s society places such a large importance on financial success. The heroes in the media are not those doing the most good (though it is often argued that providing jobs for many is doing good for the world), but a small percentage of athletes, a small percentage of performing artists, and politicians.

You can see that just by looking at your social media feed. How many of your friends mourn the passing of celebrities, or consider it a great tragedy when a “beloved” actor or athlete passes? An unknown solider, a child born in poverty, the many thousands of young women sold into sex slavery — very few mourn these tragedies. But a famous actor dies and it’s the saddest thing in 65.5 million years.

We see greed as a positive attribute, and claim that success is impossible without a strong desire for not just success but its specific symbols, primarily money in the bank.

Most importantly for Socrates, morality leads to happiness. Wealth, and the desire for wealth, leads away from morality. So where does that leave us who want to strive for financial independence? Do we need to put our financial desires aside to be happy? Or can we still aim for financial independence without desiring anything beyond what we need to pursue the moral lives we would like to live without the burden of financial distress?

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Four Fundamental States of Personal Finance

by Luke Landes
Plasma

Students of chemistry are likely aware of the four fundamental states of matter. The most advanced chemistry course I’ve taken was in high school, although I must have learned about this basic concept earlier than that. Solids have a definitive shape and volume; liquids assume the shape of its container and flow easily; gases also ... Continue reading this article…

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Why Big Wins Are the Best Way to Boost Your Saving Rate

by J.D. Roth
Reward Quadranr

This is a guest post from J.D. Roth, who founded the Get Rich Slowly blog and currently writes at More Than Money. J.D. recently launched a year-long "Get Rich Slowly" course, which is based on the idea that you’d have greater financial success if you managed your money as if you were running a business. ... Continue reading this article…

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Advice From 1871 on How to Succeed in Business and Get Wealthy

by Luke Landes
ladies

There may be only about six stories in personal finance, but those stories seem to endure the passing of time. Good storytellers can breathe new life into the same old financial advice, and great communicators can introduce world-weary concepts to those who might need to hear them for the first time. While looking for information ... Continue reading this article…

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The Words You Choose: Are Certain Expenses “Investments?”

by Luke Landes
Words

Earlier today, Naked With Cash participant Anonymous S offered his latest financial update. He noted in June how after moving into a new apartment, he increased his credit card spending to pay for new household furnishings. He’s been calling this spending an “investment.” Our Certified Financial Planner, Roger Wohlner, offered the same feedback I would ... Continue reading this article…

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Four Reasons to Talk Honestly About Money

by Luke Landes
Talk About Money

Prior to starting Consumerism Commentary, I didn’t talk about money. I’d encountered money problems with friends and families, and dealt with the problems as they came, but except for a conversation later on with my father once I was starting to improve my financial situation, it just wasn’t a topic for general discussion. People don’t ... Continue reading this article…

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Moved Bank and Investment Accounts to a Living Trust

by Luke Landes
Living trust

I spent about half of the day today taking care of some of the financial responsibilities I have been putting off. It feels good to check to-do items off my list, especially if they have been sitting there for some time, and I’ve been either procrastinating or filling my day with other priorities. One of ... Continue reading this article…

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The Psychology Behind Financial Wellness

by Guest Author
The psychology behind financial wellness

As far as I’ve come with my ability to manage my own finances, I often fall back into the comfort of unmanaged chaos. The comfort comes from the lack of work and the lack of worry, which often win the day over meticulous planning and consideration. I’m cushioned at the moment; I know that I ... Continue reading this article…

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Moving Assets Into a Revocable Living Trust

by Luke Landes
Pennies

To prepare for the idea that someday I may no longer be alive, but also as a matter of general organization, I have created a revocable living trust. The primary benefit of this type of trust is to avoid a hassle for those who may be dealing with my estate after I die. No, I ... Continue reading this article…

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Take the Time to Meet With an Estate Planner

by Luke Landes
Last Will and Testament

After putting this aspect of my finances off for the duration of my entire adult life, I finally found a recommendation for an attorney who focuses on estate planning, and we had our initial meeting earlier today. A few months ago, I had some concerns that my tax accountant, who had done a good job ... Continue reading this article…

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You Can’t Control Everything About Your Money

by Luke Landes
Hurricane

Choices play the biggest factor in success in life, financial success or otherwise. It took me a long time to come to that conclusion, but once I started accepting the facts that I could choose how I spend my time, I could choose how hard I work, and I could choose how to react to ... Continue reading this article…

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What Is Your Biggest Financial Concern Today?

by Luke Landes
Fiscal cliff

I am preparing for a possible media appearance on a program broadcast across the world. I’ve been reading a number of news stories as well as comments from readers in order to get a sense of what Americans are concerned about today. One of the biggest issues seems to be the so-called fiscal cliff. I’ve ... Continue reading this article…

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Someone Will Take Care of Me: Toxic Financial Attitudes

by Luke Landes
Old family

Eleven years ago, I left a job at a small company. My boss, the head of the company, agreed to call the break-up mutual, but I was leaving the organization without any prospects for a new job. I spent the next few months looking for a teaching job that matched my interests and my degree, ... Continue reading this article…

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Albert Einstein’s Philosophies For Growing Wealth

by Luke Landes
Albert Einstein

Although blogs and newspapers alike have oft posthumously placed a familiar quotation pertaining to compound interest — it being the most powerful force in the universe or man’s greatest invention — in the mouth of Albert Einstein, there is no evidence he ever said such a thing. He might have; the sentiment matches what seems ... Continue reading this article…

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I’ll Worry About It Later: Toxic Financial Attitudes

by Luke Landes
Tortoise

At various times throughout my life including the present, I’ve been guilty of having attitudes that could be damaging to my hopes for financial independence. I am generally a laid-back person, and my lack of what can be called “urgency” has certainly damaged my corporate ladder-climbing options. Although I’m fine with that, and I have ... Continue reading this article…

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Stop Paying For Services You Don’t Use

by Luke Landes

Earlier this month, I described a reader’s situation. She discovered she had been paying a fee for a credit life insurance product offered by her bank. The policy was no longer active, but that didn’t stop the bank from taking her money. I took the opportunity to dissect the product itself to discover whether it ... Continue reading this article…

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Sadness Inhibits Progress Towards Financial Freedom

by Luke Landes
1929_45637940414_5787_n[1]

Visiting my family this week and through Thanksgiving, I’ve been helping my mother rearrange old photographs, scan some for our online family tree, and place many into albums that will protect them for the future. One of her favorite observations about me is, “You were such a happy baby.” My personality hasn’t changed much. I ... Continue reading this article…

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