Re: Guest Post - Mutual fund migration

1

This reminds me that I was supposed to call TIAA-CREF today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:28 AM
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My wife has money with TIAA-CREF and they have an index fund but the fees are still 0.62% compared to 0.12% for an index ETF. That's the cheapest fund they offer. Must be nice to make 0.5% of investments for doing nothing at all.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:16 PM
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When I got a look at my parents' investments I found like thirty different mutual funds, not much rhyme or reason, including from several random firms they had no other connection with. I suppose the result of different weird advice over the years. I showed them how much they could be saving with no-loads and they took some of my suggestions.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:31 PM
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I have TIAA (they ditched the CREF part recently) and I have a .05% fee index fund (TIEIX). But which options you have vary from employer to employer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:32 PM
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2, an index fund doesn't do "nothing at all". They have to buy and sell stuff periodically so they continue to match the index proportionally.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:42 PM
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5: Right, but I think what SP is saying is that if Vanguard or whoever can sell the exact same product (pay for the same maintenance work) for 0.5% less, the differential is effectively money for nothing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:51 PM
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Since index funds have to sell or buy to match the index and the index is determined by what is bought and sold, if index funds even get to the point where they are a large enough percentage of the market, the whole things blows up, right?

Is that possible?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:52 PM
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5: they also have to mail out quarterly account statements and maintain a functional and consumer friendly website! None of these are trivial tasks. They totally deserve that money.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 12:53 PM
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Are they really charging 0.50% more for the exact same thing as a mutual fund? Here Vanguard charges 0.16% for one and 0.09% for the other.

The mutual fund does have to have somewhat higher rates because when you take your money out of it, the reserves of the fund get smaller and they actually have to sell stuff. With the ETF you just sell your shares to someone else, the company managing the fund doesn't do anything.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:03 PM
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7: I don't know, but there's certainly a ceiling - there are always going to be active investors, pension funds, rich people and companies, all that.

And if it happens, maybe we could just simply migrate to total market funds or something that doesn't require tracking.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:19 PM
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Aha, they buy most but not all of a common index- that's hard work deciding which not to buy!

The account buys most, but not necessarily all, of the securities in its benchmark, the Russell 3000® Index, and will attempt to create a portfolio that closely matches the overall investment characteristics of this index

Although I notice it's a variable annuity not a mutual fund, the retirement plan only offers annuity accounts.
I realized this is for my wife's previous job so I guess I could roll it over to our electronic brokerage where we could buy ETFs.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:26 PM
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The annuity stuff is what I want to talk to them about.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:29 PM
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Employer 401(k)s in the US are I bet the main source of clients for these things. In my experience offer limited selections of shitty, actively-managed mutual funds. Maybe retail bankers dispensing investment advice also, I don't know.

To 7 and 10, along with that limit, there is also a limit in the other direction-- there exists newsletters for people looking to optimally time the buying and selling of a tiny number of index funds.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:29 PM
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My 401k selection runs the gamut, with some that aren't far off from index funds, but I don't understand why they don't just let you pick your own - the benefit people we go through are just supposed to be a service provider, after all.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:41 PM
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I have the full run of Vangard funds at work. Plus TIAA-NotCREF. It just occurred to me putting part of the 401k into an annuity would have me some protection against living too long/loving too much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:44 PM
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God knows I'm not a financial planner, but my belief on annuities is that they're pretty much always a terrible deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:49 PM
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ETFs are new enough that I wonder if there is some underlying corruption to them that will one day be revealed to all and cause their value to crater. Like, I know there is all sorts of fiduciary and reporting regulatory whatever surrounding mutual funds. Do ETFs have something equivalent, or do they lack oversight to the point where 30% of them could somehow be scams? How do I know that ETF that says it has a bunch of gold really has the gold?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 1:54 PM
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Shut up, I have all of our non 401k-403b-529 restricted investments in an S&P index ETF.
(That is why they retain their value, people don't want to think about what happens if they don't.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:00 PM
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16: TIAA is supposed to be one of the rare places that offer good terms on them. That is, you are getting lower returns in exchange for a (partial) guarantee but not paying too much for it if you go through them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:02 PM
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Or at least I was going to ask about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:05 PM
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Some googling suggests they are similarly regulated to mutual funds, and there is fiduciary responsibility.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:09 PM
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Never mind then. I don't want to be responsible to them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:11 PM
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Some googling suggests they are similarly regulated to mutual funds, and there is fiduciary responsibility.

Yeah, that's what they want you to think. I'm concerned that there is an "except on Thursdays" clause that has escaped public notice.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I've learned not to trust novel new investments cooked up by the financial sector.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:23 PM
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Agreed in principle.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:28 PM
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23. The phrase I've looked up is "tracking error." So while there exist normal ETFs for the SPX or whatever, there are also eg triple-negative real estate ETFs, probably much worse than that also, somewhere.

ETFs get something called exemptive relief from the SEC, in exchange for daily portfolio disclosure requirements. My concern is that during high volatility, the ETFs, especially the weird or small ones, would be unable to liquidate if lots of people dump them (or in principle be unable to acquire underlying assets quickly enough if there's a spike). Possibly this is a false fear, and it doesn't apply to an ETF tracking a normal index. But where's the boundary in liquidity requirements or fidelity to stated goal between normal and zany?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 2:58 PM
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14, 15. At large employers with someone competent in charge I guess, good for both of you.
But both former employers of mine and employers of others whose choices I see, shitty actively managed funds are prominent. I'd guess there's an HR person and a fund salesperson who discuss what gets offered to employees, and sometimes the fund salesperson wins that meeting.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:03 PM
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My concern is that during high volatility, the ETFs, especially the weird or small ones, would be unable to liquidate if lots of people dump them (or in principle be unable to acquire underlying assets quickly enough if there's a spike).

But the nature of an ETF is that people don't take their money out of them, people just sell shares in them to other people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:09 PM
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27. ? The number of shares in an ETF that exist can change according to marlket events: http://www.etf.com/etf-education-center/21021-who-are-authorized-participants.html


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:22 PM
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I just read a book on hedge funds because Delong recommended it (because it cites one of his papers):

http://www.amazon.com/Efficiently-Inefficient-Invests-Market-Determined/dp/0691166196

I know what hedge funds do now.

Apparently, lots of hedge funds had the same position (long on value stocks with momentum/ short on low value stocks that have been declining- a trade that historically done great) and on August 6, 2007 there was a liquidity spiral where they started to have to sell stocks that they were long on (causing them to go down) and buy the stocks they were short on to cover their margins (causing them to go up). They all had to do it at the same time so this caused the position to get worse that caused more selling/buying that caused the position to get worse that caused ...

http://docs.lhpedersen.com/EveryoneRunsForExit.pdf


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:28 PM
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If I may throw another link into the financial planning discussion, the Atlantic cover story about financial insecurity is too long, and possibly self-indulgent, but also quite good.

[W]hatever you call it, the evidence strongly indicates that either a sizable minority or a slim majority of Americans are on thin ice financially. How thin? A 2014 Bankrate survey, echoing the Fed's data, found that only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they'd saved. Two reports published last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found, respectively, that 55 percent of households didn't have enough liquid savings to replace a month's worth of lost income, and that of the 56 percent of people who said they'd worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses. A similar study conducted by Annamaria Lusardi of George Washington University, Peter Tufano of Oxford, and Daniel Schneider, then of Princeton, asked individuals whether they could "come up with" $2,000 within 30 days for an unanticipated expense. They found that slightly more than one-quarter could not, and another 19 percent could do so only if they pawned possessions or took out payday loans.

....

Our life. And for many of us--we silent sufferers who cannot speak about our financial tribulations--it is our lives, not just our bank accounts, that are at risk. The American Psychological Association conducts a yearly survey on stress in the United States. The 2014 survey--in which 54 percent of Americans said they had just enough or not enough money each month to meet their expenses--found money to be the country's No. 1 stressor. Seventy-two percent of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter rated their stress "extreme." Like financial fragility itself, that stress cut across income levels and age cohorts. Not surprisingly, too much stress is bad for one's health--as, of course, is too little money. Thirty-two percent of the survey respondents said they couldn't afford to live a healthy lifestyle, and 21 percent said they were so financially strapped that they had forgone a doctor's visit, or considered doing so, in the previous year.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:30 PM
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30: I read that and thought that it was well written. I suspect that many people will look at the sixth digit and presume that he's an idiot, but the uneven payment schedule of writing seems like it'd exacerbate planning hurdles.

Though I expect that he's exaggerating if pawning things is allowed, if unpleasant, to meet the $400 emergency.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:39 PM
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The catch is that you're only allowed to pawn your own things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:42 PM
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Topically, I was just cold-called by a financial planner and am considering meeting with him. I really want someone to JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO. Unfortunately I've been a lawyer too long and know that JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO reads as $$$SUCKEROHWHATASUCKER$$$ to any financial professional. But seriously I want someone to just tell me what to do, and do most of it.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 3:57 PM
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30: That article kills me. I don't think he understood his mistakes well, even though he listed them. He doesn't seem to have any idea what was a big mistake and what was a small mistake. He realize how bad it was to forego her income for the rest of her life; she should never have been SAH, even if they could afford it that year.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 4:11 PM
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Even people who aren't in great financial shape can take comfort in the fact that there are probably a lot of people in worse financial shape. America!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 4:35 PM
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That article kills me. I don't think he understood his mistakes well, even though he listed them. He doesn't seem to have any idea what was a big mistake and what was a small mistake.

I think that's true, and I appreciate that he isn't trying to defend himself. Financial decisions are emotional decisions as well, and he presents several of them as purely (or primarily) emotional decision. That is both a recipe for making bad decisions, but also an understandable and sympathetic (if aggravating) human behavior.

I agree, that it doesn't sound like he or his wife had a clear sense of how significant the decision for her to stay home from work would be.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 4:36 PM
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Also in looking on the bright side: if your monthly income isn't great, you don't have to save as much to meet the threshold of having n months of income saved.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 4:42 PM
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We're perfectly fine, but my wife is regretting not going back to work a few years earlier, because as a teacher the difference in income each year is quite obvious from the very well defined pay steps. Even leaving aside the income she lost in those years, the cumulative difference of making a few thousand less every single year for the next 25 years is huge.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 4:45 PM
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I can't really overstate how deeply that Mr Mounie Moufftasche article in the New Yorker made me want to be catastrophically financially imprudent. I don't know if this is a force strong enough to explain the data from the Atlantic story, but we shouldn't discount it.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:06 PM
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I liked that article. Also, he is a good writer! His Jews and Hollywood book is fantastic. He does not deserve to be living like that.

This really put it in perspective, especially when you consider that an autoworker in 1968 easily was "middle class" under this definition:

In a 2010 report titled "Middle Class in America," the U.S. Commerce Department defined that class less by its position on the economic scale than by its aspirations: homeownership, a car for each adult, health security, a college education for each child, retirement security, and a family vacation each year.

In this and other big US cities, to reasonably reach that minimum threshold, you need a household income of at least around $250k/year, plus very frugal living, unless you have significant sources of wealth from somewhere else. It turns out that almost no one but the wealthy are middle class.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:06 PM
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39 - what a cock


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:10 PM
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I sort of want that guy (the Mountie) to die, but really painfully.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:12 PM
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40: Suckers. You could do it on $80k here. Less if you bought your house at the right time and only have one kid and drink at the cheap bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:14 PM
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a household income of at least around $250k/year, plus very frugal living

That's a poisonous combination, too, the sense that you're making enviably huge amounts of money and you're supposed to live in a shitty suburban ranch house and buy cheap groceries and go out infrequently. I don't know too many individuals, let alone married couples, who handle that cognitive dissonance well. Xeriscaping and native plant gardening seem like popular ways to alleviate the gnawing hatred of your ugly expensive house.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 5:20 PM
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Yes, good point.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 6:02 PM
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||

Speaking of money. Hamilton is staying on the ten dollar bill. Jackson will be dumped in favor of Tubman!

|>


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 6:55 PM
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Homeownership: $13k/yr (US average mortgage payment)
2 cars: $10k/yr (US average loan payment)
Health insurance: $5k/yr (US average employee contribution)
College education for 2 kids: $10k/yr (in state tuition averaged over 18 years)
Retirement security: 10% of gross income
Family vacation: $5k/year
Food, clothing, entertainment: $15k/year
Taxes: 20% of gross income

This is technically doable on $100k/year if you choose the cheapest options for each item. Of course, it balloons rapidly if a) you have expensive taste or b) you live in an expensive city. Also, median household income is only $50k. $100k a year is already a top 20% household, so "middle class" is not very middle.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:14 PM
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Neighborhood kid started that.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:14 PM
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Where do you vacation?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:17 PM
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I assume our auto expenses are cheaper than usual as I mostly take the bus (we have to have two cars, I guess, because otherwise people will think we're poor), but that seems like an awful lot on cars. There's a reason the median car in the U.S. has been on the road for 11 years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:22 PM
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Also, lots of people have 401k matches. To put away 10% would only be 5% out of pocket.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:23 PM
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"Lots" of people, maybe, but not even close to most people.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:36 PM
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5k per year is a really nice vacation each year- flying somewhere, staying in hotels. Until our big vacation this summer I think we've only ever approached that once in 11 years, when the family came with me on a business trip to Europe for two weeks. More commonly we rent a cottage somewhere for 1000-1500 per week, drive there for a couple hundred in gas, eat out a couple times but mostly cook at the house, do some activities or museums.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:42 PM
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Well, it's probably a bigger group than the 20% who are in a household making more than $100k.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:42 PM
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54 to 52.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:43 PM
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That $13k mortgage payment is what just kills you in a large city like this one. According to some googling (I can't do math, but I can do Google) that's about the mortgage on a $275,000 home, where you've already saved enough to put the full 20% down. Good luck finding that $275k house big enough for your potentially college-going kids (or, indeed, a house under twice that, or $550k) near here.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:51 PM
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Can anyone recommend a good retirement-for-beginners article or website? I am so thoroughly confused by even the most basic terms that I just want to read up, but every time I start to investigate, the first umpteen links seem to be from people with obvious axes to grind.

It's probably not logical to have retirement savings in four different accounts because of a vague belief that having all your eggs in one basket is tempting fate, right?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:55 PM
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You couldn't get a $275,000 home here and pay only $13,000 in mortgage payments here if that's supposed to include taxes and insurance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:55 PM
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57.2: No, but it is logical to have them in four different accounts because that's how many times you've switched jobs and filling out the forms to combine them it too much work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:56 PM
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Or so say I.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 7:57 PM
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59 is in fact my situation. I have just avoided dealing with it in part because I feel superstitious about combining them. This may be because of really sketchy money guy at my last job who strongly implied an (I think) false interpretation of retirement law in an attempt to convince me to close my old accounts and move to his company's.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:03 PM
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57.1: The Vanguard site isn't bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:04 PM
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61: That is false and a very good reason to avoid that guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:07 PM
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47 also assumes totally free child care.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:26 PM
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So nice to be done with that (except for summer camps).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:28 PM
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I wish someone did a survey to determine precisely how many people don't understand tax brackets and have taken active measures to make less money because they think that going over a certain amount of income means all your income is taxed at a higher rate.
Related, I paid a bit of AMT for the first time this year- $200.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:32 PM
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I believe I'm exactly the kind of fuck who gets fucked by the AMT. Which, fair enough, but couldn't you fuck the bigger fucks more?


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 8:36 PM
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And thus did Tigre begin to feel the Bern.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 9:07 PM
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Nope! Still a fraud.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 9:22 PM
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5k per year is a really nice vacation each year- flying somewhere, staying in hotels.

I keep telling you people, being a day or less drive from a bunch of national parks is the way to go. Tent camping fees in those run around 20-27 a night.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:12 PM
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Pretty much everyone in the US is a day or less drive from a bunch of National Parks. Granted, most of them aren't as nice as yours.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:23 PM
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Tents ain't free, you know, and neither are camp stoves or fuel.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:27 PM
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What is the crappiest national park? Hot Springs Arkansas?


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:30 PM
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I guess it gets much more craptastic if you include national monuments and national historic parks.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:33 PM
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Yeah, it depends how broadly you want to define "National Parks." If you go as far as "all NPS units," probably one of the National Parkways (which are just highways with fancy rest stops or whatever).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:35 PM
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OK, let's keep it to for-real national parks. I think the crappiest look like Hot Springs Arkansas and the Cuyahoga park.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:39 PM
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Or maybe one of the National Historical Sites associated with an extremely terrible president, like Andrew Johnson.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:40 PM
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Limiting it to just literal National Parks actually makes it much harder, because that's both a small set and one that is mostly limited to the highest-quality units. I haven't been to either Hot Springs or Cuyahoga but they both sound like reasonable choices given the constraints.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:43 PM
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Right, all national parks are good, but some are worse than others. Wind Cave South Dakota also looks relatively lame.

Then there are things like this gigantic monument to who gives a fuck.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:45 PM
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This reminds me of the set of 1-star reviews of national parks. "Beautiful park, but the park service employees kept on making dumbing rules like how many friends we can have."

70, 71: I have chosen to delete the part of this comment mocking Utah for its recently-uncovered health crisis, but I can't resist leaving in the quote about how "analyses from the past two years show Utah has . . . the second-shortest sessions of any state." Yeah, that sounds concerning.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:47 PM
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Then there are things like this gigantic monument to who gives a fuck.

There's all kinds of crazy shit in the NPS system. Delaware recently got its first park (after many years of being the only state to not have one) and it's about as lame as you'd expect.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:51 PM
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It's basically just a collection of random historical sites, not all of which are even in Delaware.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:52 PM
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Also, the latest redesign of the NPS website is extremely terrible and hard to use. It's like they're deliberately trying to make it impossible to find useful information.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:53 PM
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But it sure has lots of GIANT PICTURES that I'm sure show up well on phones or whatever.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:53 PM
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I'm in the process of helping my mom and sister move to Oregon, which will mean I may be able to claim my mom on my taxes as a dependent. I'm about to have my CPA do the math for me to see how much I'll be saving. Also it will be awesome to be able to see my family in 6 hours travel instead of 24.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 10:55 PM
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OK, I take that back. Wind Cave is pretty rad.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:06 PM
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Tents ain't free, you know, and neither are camp stoves or fuel.

No, but for drive up camping even something really solid and durable like the Cabelas Alaskan Guide tents only run 350-450. A Coleman propane stove is under 100, etc. Relative to flying/hotel stays it's not even close when you spread those initial equipment costs over a decade.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:20 PM
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I have chosen to delete the part of this comment mocking Utah for its recently-uncovered health crisis

Why? It's fucking hilarious.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:25 PM
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83: Here's what you need to know. Campsites can be reserved in advance for Yellowstone so get on that shit early in the year before they fill up. Glacier is first come first serve and you want the west side in either Sprague Creek or Avalanche Creek. So drive up and get a motel room in Kalispell or Columbia Falls or whatever the night before and be up at those areas at like 7am so you can snag your spot.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:37 PM
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Also, if you're going to do some kind of dinosaur bone tour Dinosaur Natl Monument is way better than Cleveland Lloyd.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 11:39 PM
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Shockingly, the list of things I might want to know about a national park goes well beyond the list in 89. Not that it isn't good advice.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:11 AM
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91 was me of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:11 AM
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Damn right Wind Cave is rad. At least for 8 year old Chopper spelunking for the first time.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:24 AM
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I already shared this in the other place but my local state park has both the best name and atlatls and I can just drive home at night and be in my own bed. That probably doesn't count as a vacation but it should be awesome.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 3:24 AM
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I'm looking forward to GTMO being made a national historic park, with college students dressing up as prisoners, doing waterboard demonstrations, and the like. It'll be a relaxing say after touring Gran Piedra (Bacanao national park looks amazing from here).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 3:45 AM
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Cuyahoga Valley Nation Park is now Yellowstone, but it is surprisingly scenic. It's just a lovely valley.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 5:15 AM
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"now" s/b "not".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 5:16 AM
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When the supervolcano happens, all the parks will be Yellowstone.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 5:27 AM
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Anyway, this summer I mean to spend more time in the state forests here. Then I'll work up to national parks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 5:53 AM
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95 Before or after it's returned to Cuba.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 5:59 AM
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Most employer matches are only 50% up to say 6%. So 10% of gross saved involves 7% of gross income plus 3% match.

And retirement security really requires upwards of 20% if you want much more than what you get from social security unless you get lucky with a bull market or housing wealth.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:26 AM
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Maybe I'm spoiled with my 150% match.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:28 AM
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||

Jetpack et al. vindicated on how far out self-driving cars are.

|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 8:47 AM
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The only way to be vindicated in your belief that self-driving cars are, say, at least thirty years away is to wait thirty years and look around for self-driving cars.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 8:58 AM
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David Hume says even that isn't foolproof.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 9:06 AM
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57. I think there are three questions: How much do I need? how much do I have, expressed in likely monthy income at retirement? and how best to save now?

The second one is a little complicated. One way I have found to sidestep the online calculators which include both your future savings rate and the future growth rate of your savings, is to take current savings and calculate how much you'd get if you started tapping them today, assuming 25 years of drawdown. That income is your worst case if you stopped saving tomorrow.

For how best to save now, reading about target-date funds and their recommended asset allocation at various ages would be my suggestion-- they use the words "glide path" to describe this. As Moby says, Vanguard has clear descriptions.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 9:31 AM
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I like this response to the article linked in 30 above.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:24 AM
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Really? Bc 107 struck me as the work of a true Slate-style asshole.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:31 AM
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I mean the article, not you, Hammer.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:32 AM
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Thanks. But it hadn't occurred to me, because it doesn't really come up often in my life, that he's complaining about being broke while his house is in an area where summer rentals are both common and lucrative.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:36 AM
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Yeah. I sort of have generalized sympathy for anyone who's in a hard spot, and that guy sounds like he is. On the other hand, his bad economic decisions were epic, in an sort of avoidable kind of way. As Moby implies, right now he could be arbitraging his summers: renting someplace cheap and making money off an East Hampton summer rental. In the past... there's a range of money that private school implies, but for this guy, living where he was? Two kids? Even a couple of years, that could have been a ridiculous amount. Emptying a retirement account to pay for a kid's wedding? Is he an idiot? And not to be judgmental, but having half the couple not working at anything that produces income? I'm sure there are some people for whom it's a sensible decision, but not these guys.

So, not so much that I don't sympathize, but this isn't so much a "times are hard" story but a "before you turn the chainsaw on, remember to check that you're holding the handle rather than the blade." Good advice, but reasonably sensible people shouldn't need it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:26 PM
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True story. I once watched a google engineer grab a knife by the blade.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:28 PM
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But, I think there is a great deal of ground in between kicking a guy when he is down and pointing out that maybe his being down isn't the best illustration of the financial difficulties facing 47% of Americans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:31 PM
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I dunno, I thought the point of the article in 30 wasn't "woe is me" but that even relatively prosperous people upper middle class or above folks are often struggling financially in silence, as a result of perfectly understandable if non-optimal financial decisions. And that a lot of those non-optimal decisions are the result of a false but deeply ingrained belief that wages will rise over time, which turns out to be false. I thought it was a more powerful piece than it would have been if he were claiming to be Joe Average or perfectly financially prudent.

On the summer house thing, my guess is that if it were the one simple trick that solved all his financial woes, he would be doing it. Maybe he is.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:43 PM
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110, 111: In principle, sure, he could be arbitraging his summers. But that would require that he (1) have the scratch up front to rent the "someplace cheap" before getting income on his rental and (2) have time to get the house into sufficient shape to rent out. Neither might be easy for a working writer.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:46 PM
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And I feel like 111 last is kind of lame. "Reasonably sensible people" can fuck up pretty easily and telling them to Suze Orman it out is fine but also missing the point and lame. Dealing with finances in an age of expansive credit and stagnant or declining income is hard, maybe especially if you're talented and work hard and expect a lifestyle you can't quite reach, which as this guy says is true of a lot of different people at a lot of different income levels.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:48 PM
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Reasonably sensible people fuck up all the time. However, people who finish a paragraph with "I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses" and start the next one with how they bought a house in the Hamptons are pretty thin on the ground.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:52 PM
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It's not that I'm judging him for being a particularly extreme fuck-up -- I have recently become aware that some apparently sensible people can make some truly terrible decisions. But that if you're talking about common financial problems, talking about someone in the top 5% income bracket, who got confused about whether it was a good idea to live like someone in the top 2%, isn't particularly illuminating. Most people who don't have $400 to hand, their reasons don't resemble his much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:52 PM
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Or I guess moved to the Hamptons. They aren't talking about buying there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:53 PM
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They bought. Rented first, then bought the house.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 12:59 PM
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I felt like the article suffered from a desire to moralize - at points, making it seem like the main problem was financial illiteracy or the bulk of the population being dumb in the same ways he was - but it was careful to ground itself at multiple points in the reality of stagnating wages and climbing fixed expenses (housing, health care, etc.) which screws people no matter how responsible they are.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:03 PM
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especially if you're talented and work hard and expect a lifestyle you can't quite reach

Paging both Sterling Archer and Bob Belcher.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:04 PM
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Looks like they did buy the house eventually:


We rented a house and made a go of it. After Martin Scorsese bought the movie rights to my biography of the gossip columnist Walter Winchell, we even managed to put together a down payment to buy the house we'd been renting.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:04 PM
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But that kind of story generates vitriol and for good reason. It's a cliche amongst conservatives, but "why should I feel sorry for this guy who is a victim of his bad choices when I suffered for my correct choices?" is a normal response to that piece. And sure, usually that discounts luck and systemic issues, but this guy made a lot of bad choices and justified them by saying "well, I just kinda wanted to do it that way".


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:04 PM
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120: Right. And they did this as an economy measure. Which is true maybe not the strongest argument about effects of stagnant wages in the U.S.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:05 PM
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I have recently become aware that some apparently sensible people can make some truly terrible decisions.

Details?!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:06 PM
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No.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:07 PM
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expect a lifestyle you can't quite reach

Basically, the dude spent all of the money of his and his wife's lifetime, including all of his predictable future money, to live a lifestyle he couldn't afford. Unlike most people, he did in fact have the experience of living in the nice house in the nice place and having the wedding that he couldn't afford. Most people can't afford things and also don't get to have them.

They should hope his daughters plan to support them without actually transferring any money to them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:15 PM
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124: I don't feel vitriol or anything. Just a general sense of WTF is this guy thinking. Not what was he thinking when he went into debt but when he used "people who can't get $400" as his hook.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:15 PM
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7: Not really. For a capitalization-weighted index, like the S&P 500, or the Wilshire 5000, the goal of a fund matching that index is to own x% of the companies making up that index, for some value of x, no matter what happens to their individual stock prices. So if index funds like that happened to become 50% or 60% of the total market, their goal would be to own 50% or 60% of IBM, GE, Microsoft, ... . Perfectly sustainable, in principle.

But that's why you see index funds use the S&P 500 as their target index, rather than the Dow, or something like that.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:18 PM
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Harold Pollock, who's becoming well-known for this issue, has a decent response, here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-costs-of-financial-isolation/478830/


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:19 PM
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I thought the "people who can't get $400" was powerful exactly because this is not the kind of guy you'd expect wouldn't be able to get $400. 128.1 is sort of true but so what. It's also true of an enormous chunk of the US population, though different people manage to live different and possibly lesser levels of things they can't afford, but they still can't afford them. Being a priggish asshole about it is just buying into a lame right wing trope.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:19 PM
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130: That is, x% of each company included in the index, rather than x% of the companies.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:20 PM
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Speculative idea, maybe I have mentioned here already: Talking about money, at all, is one of the l;ast taboos in the US. I'm more likely to hear people mention medication for depression or anxiety than to say anything about money. In contrast, all tax returns in Norway are publicly searchable. European and Asian friends will frankly and openly ask "how much did you pay?" about things, both top-line amount and about financing details.

I believe that this silence is counterproductive, that people would be better off knowing that a few of the Mercedes they see are leased. I guess I'm coming out basically pro-Suze Orman.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:20 PM
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The Joneses.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:24 PM
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I find Suze Orman so viscerally repulsive, down to the name ("Soooooze") that I have no idea what she actually has to say. But yes 134.1 is true and is part of very odd psychology about money in the US right now, that manifests itself in a large number of ways. Basically people make fun of hip hop stars for blowing their income on renting ridiculous cars or whatever but there are huge numbers of people living similar if much more surface-sensible financial lives, but it's the ultimate taboo to discuss this issue.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:24 PM
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I found this to be much more deserving of my consideration.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:24 PM
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I found this to be much more deserving of my consideration.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:24 PM
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Being a priggish asshole about it is just buying into a lame right wing trope.

Naw. There is plenty of room to be a priggish asshole about this guy before buying into a lame right wing trope. That lame right wing trope plateaus at lifestyles a whole lot less luxurious than this guy's. He has messed up on his wife's behalf as well, and she may well outlive him by a bunch.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:25 PM
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114: Gabler's own piece in 30 walked a fine line between self-pity and self-admonishment, and did so mostly successfully. But I thought Olen's piece in Slate trod the same ambivalent line entirely appropriately. She wasn't being cruel, just observing that this is a guy who is guilty of some bad judgments and whose claim on our pity is limited.

It's interesting to me the way people evaluate his different fuckups. The wedding seems like the most egregious one - but you know, having a Harvard Medical School grad (or a Stanford Rhodes scholar, I forget which) feeling really personally indebted to you might well be a very good investment.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:25 PM
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132: But I don't think that not having $400 dollars after your kids are through college (and substantial graduate education) is the same as not having it before your kids even start. Or not having $400 after you bought a house vs. before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:27 PM
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Huh, 134 posted before seeing 131.

To 132.priggish: Wanting stupid things for shallow reasons deserves contempt, actually buying them when you can't really afford to deserves more of it.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:28 PM
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137 -- I don't think "poor people are poor," while important and true, is as taboo-busting for most people as "apparently wealthy and smart people are also often deeply financially strapped through understandable if not great decisions." It's a different point for a different audience. The point is to break through smug bullshit, not reinforce it.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:29 PM
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It's a bit of an indictment of the state of journalism that we don't have more narratives like this from people who make more like a median income. The Atlantic writer attempts to draw from his experience to the national experience, and there are certainly parallels, but also difference in degree becoming a difference in kind.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:29 PM
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"apparently wealthy and smart people are also often deeply financially strapped through understandable if not great decisions."

I do think that is important, but seems not to have noticed that the consequences of being strapped are hugely different depending on your starting point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:32 PM
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The article linked in 131 is good.

And sure, usually that discounts luck and systemic issues, but this guy made a lot of bad choices and justified them by saying "well, I just kinda wanted to do it that way".

Something that I think about from time to time, which may make me sound like a total hippie: one of the things that saddens me about living in contemporary America is the way in which, among all the many things that people can be good or bad at, and all the many personality traits, the ability to make sensible financial decisions takes on such over-weighted importance.

Consider one person who is terrible at spotting when people are lying to them* and somebody else who is terrible at being able to conceptualize, "predictable future money." Both might end up making mistakes which are predictable, based on those flaws, but the former is just seen as a sucker, the latter as a wastrel**.

Or, consider two people, one of whom is good with people and brilliant at helping a group function, but terrible at self-promotion, the other brilliant at navigating a career path. In middle age the second person is going to be pricing the first out of the housing market.

I don't know what the alternative is. It's just something that I muse about from time to time.

* _raises hand_

** There is a confounding factor. Because everybody knows that money is important people have a strong incentive to learn basic financial skills, even if that isn't a natural strength. So, to some extent, the second person is not only guilty of bad judgement, they are also guilty of ignoring all sorts of helpful advice.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:33 PM
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having a Harvard Medical School grad (or a Stanford Rhodes scholar, I forget which) feeling really personally indebted to you might well be a very good investment

I so think that's their best remaining asset, but just realized that he didn't just spend his parents' future money, his own future money as well as his wife's, but his decisions will reach into his daughters' pockets until he and his wife die. That's a long hangover for a lifestyle he's sustained for twenty-some years.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:37 PM
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I found this to be much more deserving of my consideration.

I haven't read the book, but I thought the NYRB review was excellent. Long, depressing, but very much worth reading.

Seeking distraction one winter afternoon, a Milwaukee boy takes to some old-fashioned mischief and hurls snowballs at passing cars. A driver gives chase and kicks in the door of the house where the boy lives with his mother and younger brother. The landlord puts the family out. Thus begins an odyssey that in Matthew Desmond's gripping and important book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, exposes the harrowing world of the ten million or so low-income households that pay half or more of their income for rent and utilities, a long-overlooked population whose numbers have recently soared.

The mother, Arleen, finds a house she likes, and it consumes only 84 percent of her cash income. But the city condemns it. So she moves the teen, Jori, and his brother, Jafiris, to a place she calls "Crack Head City" and then to a duplex where the rent, $550 a month, requires 88 percent of her income. She falls behind and gets evicted two days before Christmas, but the new tenant lets her stay until she finds a place. Living with a stranger causes friction, and Arleen calls ninety landlords before finding a place, from which she is again evicted. The situation worsens. She and the boys double up with a neighbor who is turning tricks. They rent a place where they are robbed at gunpoint. When Arleen's next apartment takes 96 percent of her welfare check, she can't keep the lights on. Her worst fear comes to pass: child welfare takes the kids.

...

Worse, evictions destabilize people. Jori, the snowball thrower, went to five different schools in seventh and eighth grades, "when he went at all." He once missed seventeen consecutive days. The disruptions cause workers to get fired. Letters sent to wrong addresses cause people to miss appointments and lose public aid. Evictions mar the tenants' records, making it harder to get housing assistance or rent private apartments. The effects are enduring, as measured by incidents like hunger or lost utilities. "The year after eviction, families experience 20 percent higher levels of material hardships than similar families who were not evicted," Desmond writes. He continues:

"Then there is the toll eviction takes on a person's spirit.... One in two recently evicted mothers reports multiple symptoms of clinical depression, double the rates of similar mothers who were not forced from their homes. Even after years pass, evicted mothers are less happy, energetic, and optimistic than their peers."

Eviction isn't just another hardship, Desmond argues, but a detour onto a much harder path--"a cause, not just a condition, of poverty."

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:39 PM
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146.last: The real challenge is to distinguish between the genuinely helpful advice, and the advice that seems reasonable but is really oriented towards increasing the income/marketability of the giver, without necessarily being particularly helpful to the recipient.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:40 PM
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I haven't read the book, but I thought the NYRB review was excellent.

Written by, I see, Jason DeParle, who wrote American Dream about poverty and the effects of Welfare Reform. I've had a copy sitting on my shelf for a while, but haven't read it yet.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:42 PM
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The piece linked in 131 is really good.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:43 PM
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I listen to money singing. It's like looking down
From long French windows at a provincial town, The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.

Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:44 PM
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"Poor people are poor" completely misses the point, probably intentionally. That's clearly the least interesting thing about that description of the book. "The system sucks", "decisions have real consequences when you're poor", "there simply are no good decisions" are more interesting. Someone should write the world's most depressing choose-your-own-adventure book based on it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:48 PM
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153.last: I've thought about that. I try not to give money or advice to the families I'm connected to through foster/adoption but there are a lot of dead ends with no good outcomes that I hear about. And none of them are even in truly dire situations right now.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:50 PM
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Maybe the guy who turned Grapes of Wrath into one could do it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:50 PM
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One of the broader themes that I worry about regularly is also relevant here. We always overestimate our ability to resist temptation and desire. So I wonder if our ability as a society to design new temptations will outpace our ability to find ways to resist those temptations.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:51 PM
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I'm not saying that book in 137 is uninteresting. At all. What I'm saying is that in the context of this discussion using it to bash the article in 30 because poor people have it worse is point-missing in a way that I don't think is helpful. The point about a gap between income and expectation is that it creates a taboo problem that runs the gamut of the income scale.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:52 PM
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I think the gap between income and expectations is not something you can solve. The fact that it causes much more debilitating problems to those at the bottom strikes me as something that can be ameliorated even if it can't be solved.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:55 PM
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I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses. But, like many Americans, I wanted my children to keep up with the Joneses' children, because I knew how easily my girls could be marginalized in a society where nearly all the rewards go to a small, well-educated elite. (All right, I wanted them to be winners.)

That was what jumped out at me. My own intended downward mobility is one thing, but I also definitely want to opt out of this Winners culture for the girls. I think it's gross and the root of much evil.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:57 PM
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Well, it was more easily solved in an era with expanding income and less readily available access to credit. Now we have the reverse.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:57 PM
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Also, this guy's books are really good. This isn't a perfect book but it's well worth reading if you have even a passing interest in the subject matter.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 2:05 PM
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between income and expectations is not something you can solve

Whoa whoa whoa. Expectations are wholly under the expector's control. Ten years ago I had a conversation with a friend that convinced me that I would never achieve my parents' lifestyle. People who are paying attention have every ability to make their incomes and expectations match.

The guy in the story should never have expected to fund his daughter's wedding, and should have known that a decade in advance. The parts where he most notably fucks up relate directly to that mismatch. That's on him.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 2:07 PM
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I mean "you" as a person setting or working to change public policy, not "you" as a person sitting down to watch "Real Housewives".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 2:09 PM
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Though I'm more than willing to go into schools and demoralize kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 2:18 PM
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Whoa whoa whoa. Expectations are wholly under the expector's control.

Yes and no.

First of all things change, and it's all to common for our expectations to be slower to change than our material circumstances.

Secondly, we have a case in which there is an obvious life hazard which most (many?) people will avoid but some people are going to hit and suffer from. What's the proper reaction? On one hand the people who fail to avoid the hazard are clearly messing up, since many people do see it and avoid it. On the other hand, they aren't messing up in a surprising way -- it's predictable and obvious that somebody is going to do so. So it's worth thinking about how to set up structures to minimize the harm that people suffer*.

That is precisely why a social safety net is valuable, because many people are going to need it -- some through no fault of their own, and some because of their own faults, but it's still good if the system can minimize the cases in which it's the case, "his decisions will reach into his daughters' pockets until he and his wife die." That isn't a neutral fact of life, that is a political and cultural decision.

[I'm overstating the case here, of course. Even a robust social safety net won't (and shouldn't) protect people from all consequences, and children will still end up supporting their parents, but I do think it makes sense to treat this as a political question, rather than just saying, " That's on him."]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 2:33 PM
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This is part of why I've come around to favoring a guaranteed basic income. I'd be happy if it started at just 10% of GDP, which is $5k per person. Call it a national tithe.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 3:09 PM
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101: I was thinking that I shoudl have been saving 30% since the age of 22.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:26 PM
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100 First, burn it to the fucking ground.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:39 PM
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Expectations are wholly under the expector's control.

That doesn't seem right. Can expectations really be managed? I don't mean "is it possible for human beings to do good financial planning." But it's pretty hard to manage your expectations for what you believe to be an appropriate standard of living. Especially for your kids. And a pretty important psychological component of most people's lives.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:54 PM
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I completely missed this thread until now. It's always sad when I miss opportunities to simulate an expert.

33: Tigre, I will tell you what to do -- FOR FREE. Buy the Vanguard Total World ETF. The only value of talking to a professional is getting tax advice. Otherwise they don't know shit.

106: Asset allocation is a lie, unless you're 60 or something. Bonds are going to be a terrible investment for the rest of our lives. Interest rates are low, which means that bond prices are high. They have no place to go except down.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 12:08 AM
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Bonds have a role if you are over 50 and for medium-run savings (eg for kids' college or weddings). They won't return much but stock volatility can be harmful once you are nearing or in the draw-down stage of life. And

A good financial planner can help with taxes, social security claiming, annuity purchase. They can also help you not do something stupid (sell stocks right after a crash) and plan how much your will be able to spend, when you can retire, etc. Just be sure they are are fee-for-service fiduciary (paid by you), not a sales person for financial products (paid to rip you off).


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 6:58 AM
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Isn't social security claiming pretty easy? Or do you mean deciding at what age it is best to claim it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:02 AM
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173

"Hello nameless bureaucrat in cheap office space furnished poorly. I am now old. Here's my ID."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:04 AM
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174

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.

Also I agree with 130. If I own 1/300millionth of each publicly traded corporation, i have the same claim to their earnings/dividends. It doesn't matter their relative values, only the total cost I paid.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:22 AM
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175

What age, doing file & suspend, doing different things for each spouse/restricted application, sequencing withdrawls from roth/deferred tax/taxable accounts to avoid SS taxation. I think some of this may have changed recently, not sure. I don't know that it is too complicated, but probably worth paying someone to walk you through it if you don't like managing financial planning yourself.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:29 AM
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176

Wait, I have a lot of bonds. (Relative to my total savings. Not in any absolute sense.) Are money market funds better? I'm afraid of stocks.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:55 AM
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177

Over the course of time that I've been saving, my funds in bonds have done fairly well, and my funds invested in stocks (some of which I still have) have been terrible.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 7:57 AM
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178

I shifted out of stocks after reading something by a Mark Cuban. I'm sure it wasn't this but it was something not dissimilar.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 8:01 AM
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179

Doesn't a Mark Cuban appear on a TV show with Donald Trump?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-16 8:08 AM
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180

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181

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Posted by: loan | Link to this comment | 04-11-17 7:04 PM
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