Saturday, September 12, 2015

But At Least The Mattress Is Lumpy

Mostly, Dave and I have been good about not living beyond our means, even though we can easily see the edge of our means from here. We've even been good at putting money away. Which is a good thing because this way it will take a little longer for our money to disappear completely.

That's what it's going to do. It's going to evaporate, and just leave behind a little ring of good intentions. What you're supposed to do is learn a little about finances, and then make wise choices. You're supposed to make your money work for you. This concept makes me squirmy. I understand how I made money. Some days, I was even worth what I was paid. But it seems wrong that my money should go off and make money on its own, maybe even while I'm asleep and possibly drooling. Like maybe my money will make enough money to move out of the house some day. Get a girlfriend and a dog and a cable connection and a bedroom set from IKEA. And I'd never see my money again.

In fact, the idea that my money should work for me is deeply repellent. That would make me The Man. I won't even get a pedicure because I'm too creeped out by the vision of some small woman laboring away at my toe jam, like I'm Genghis Khan or something. Why should my money make money? What could it possibly do that is useful to society? I'd be fine if it just sat around the house and didn't drop wet towels on the floor.

So we're not good about money; we're too indulgent, and let it slack off. Our house is the bright spot. We bought it long ago, when you could score a complete house for twenty dollars as long as you paid, like, a million bucks a month interest. We certainly couldn't afford it now. Which means our real estate makes us worth a lot dead. We've inadvertently become winners in a game of economic roulette that has produced conditions that are supposed to make homeowners feel terrific, assuming they do not give a shit about poor people.

Oh, we used to have investments, but we bailed out of them on at least two noteworthy occasions corresponding to the precise nadir of the market. They say you can't time the market, but they're wrong. If we do it one more time, we'll have no money saved at all, and might have to write a check to a financial institution just to make them promise to stop giggling.

So our money is now working just as hard as cash stashed under the mattress, assuming there is a little mouse nibbling at the edges. It's not working. So be it. We don't work so well anymore, either.

38 comments:

  1. I used to think about investments and such but never had enough money even to get started, let alone bail out later. I've never owned a home either, even 44 years ago when houses were much cheaper and we had the opportunity, we couldn't afford one. No big deal, not now anyway. Maintenance on a home and yard is beyond me these days, mostly because I'm too lazy to do it.
    I don't have money that works for me either, but I am careful with my spending, I allot myself a certain amount per month, so there's weekly leeway, but when the amount is gone I stop buying stuff. 99% of the time I have a small amount left at the end of each month and I stash it away for emergencies.

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    1. I think "stop buying stuff" is a plenty good strategy for a number of reasons. Including that you won't have so much...STUFF.

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    2. "Stop buying stuff" is good for the environment. I pledged a year of no shopping (clothes, makeup, household tchotchkes). It became something of a habit.

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    3. It's an easier habit to pick up than people think. The not-having-stuff gets to feel good in itself. And maybe it's an old-lady thing, but I just want to get rid of stuff now. Hi Nanine!

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  2. If you have lots of money you can make small bits in the market. But this past decade has not been good for anyone who sets aside money. Real estate seems to be a better bet, but you still have to know what you are doing.

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  3. Money isn't the devil. Money is a tool. And like a tool, it can be used to make your life easier and better, or it can be used to gouge someone's eyes out (figuratively). I have some invested, but my financial advisor is obviously a bit nonplussed by me. He keeps telling me to put aside a hefty amount for emergencies, but that's easier to do on paper than in reality, where one must pay property taxes, and have one's brakes fixed. Plus, I feel that investing is a bit like gambling. My money could disappear, or at least be decimated. I'd rather spend that money on myself and what will contribute to my happiness in the NOW than to save it and just have it go up in a puff of smoke when the shit hits the fan -- whether it be a depression or a zombie apocalypse.

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    1. I'm one of the only people I know who never even thinks about the zombie apocalypse. I should have a Kit. I could keep it next to my earthquake kit. I don't have one of those either. I don't even keep my glasses by my bed.

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  4. How I love your writing! And it's good to see ol' what's his name (Pootie's friend) get his fifteen minutes of fame.

    I know so little about investing that all I'm going to say is - toe jam: haven't heard or used that word(s) in decades. It calls up memories of lazy childhood days, for some reason, and that's a good thing.

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    1. That particular F.O.P. is called Rat. Rat was invited into the home to be a toy for Tater Cat. But Tater seems to have put Rat in the category of a Friend Of Pootie and won't touch him. That's why he smiles all the time.

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  5. Jim has a 401K through work, and a couple years ago, we were getting statements telling us we were going to be destitute in retirement unless we upped our contribution by 3%. Lucky us, he got a little raise, so we upped it by 5%.

    Now we get statements telling us we will be destitute unless we increase our contribution by 5% MORE.

    We have learned to stop reading the statements.

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    1. Maybe this is dumb, but I think the experts believe we need way more money than we do in retirement. I mean, at a certain age we quit spending so much money, right? "Not reading the statements" is a valid planning method, in my book.

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  6. Argh. No, Murr. No. Make the money work.

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    1. You sound uncharacteristically hard-ass, Dale. Would it be okay if I just asked it nicely in a wheedly voice?

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    2. No way. Crack that whip! If it isn't working for you, it's working for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Capital is ALWAYS working for somebody.

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    3. Okay. True confessions. I've engaged the services of a trained professional. Now I'll have someone else to blame.

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    4. I see what you did there. This was a thinly veiled cry for help. And Dale answered. Well played Murre.

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    5. And now I have you and Dale to blame also.

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  7. I had some money, too. I didn't want to be dumb with it, so I did what I'd read smart people should do. I found a financial advisor with credentials and a fancy office and a team of "financial caregivers." We had lots of planning meetings, got that money tucked in snug as a bug and diversified fifty ways to hell, and proceeded with the awesome retirement we so richly deserved. For four whole months in a row. April, 2008, and I don't have to tell YOU what was going on that month. Ultimately, our big shot financial advisor panicked over what was happening to his carefully planned portfolios and tried to shovel out by investing us in a Ponzie scheme. We got to be dumb after all.

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    1. ACK! I think I would have turned on my heel at "financial caregivers." Bleah. Can you sue?

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    2. Financial advisor declared bankruptcy immedistely. We sued his guarantor, but it went to arbitration as per contract, so we got $.25 on the dollar. You have to know that everyone's ass is covered at all times except the investor's. Your money will always work best for the Money Men.

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    3. Oh lordy, lordy. You know, before the '80s, there weren't anything like this many money men. Somebody got in theRRe and fixed things for them.

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  8. I am a saver (mostly) and have some money put away for emergencies. Which happen more often than I like. Mind you, my definition of emergencies isn't rigid either. Sometimes a new book coming out by an author I like is an emergency which requires my money should stop working (slowly and not very well) for me and go to someone else.

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    1. I am hoping to provide you with just such an emergency one of these days.

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    2. Snap! I've just diverted some money via a small bit of plastic to a bookshop struggling to survive...I feel very good about this.Rather like allowing refugees to come ashore.

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  9. My money is working for me, but my money is slacking off. Too many vacation days, and the sick days OUCH! I should fire my money and hire someone else's money except that is probably not legal.

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    1. Oh heck yes, it's plenty legal. There's a whole class of people who do nothing but hire other people's money, and they get in a more favorable tax bracket, too.

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  10. Making money is a valuable art but it's real hard to get George Washington's mouth just right.

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  11. Geo should get some kinda award for that one.
    Nice sideways critique of capitalism, not marxian at all, but good metaphors.

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    1. Really, I've been thinking about money a lot lately. And how it has to have been a recent invention/convention. And how it shouldn't be necessary. And how it's mostly up to no good.

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  12. I'm really grateful I was raised by Depression era parents who said things like "waste not, want not" and "a stitch in time saves nine". I was also smart enough to marry a farm boy who can make and fix anything. So as long as there is enough money to keep the wolf from the door, I figure we'll be ok. Rich in frugality and simplicity.

    The most pressing concern is how to get rid of all this bumph we've spent years accumulating: everyone else is doing the same thing, so the bumph market is flooded.

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    1. I think it's important for most people to have at least enough. The roof, the food, health care. And a little more helps with a feeling of security. But so does being rich with simplicity. Sometimes if you're wealthy enough you don't know how to live without it.

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  13. So, what exactly IS that papery stuff with the numbers and greenish tinge?

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    1. Have you even LOOKED at a major bill lately? I don't even recognize them. I saw a $100 and it was all striped and colored and had critters jumping around in it and I don't know what-all.

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