by Richard Schneider
Emeritus Professor of Accounting, WSU
This is the theme song for Trump’s show. For some money is the American dream, and others the root of all evil. No matter where you stand it’s a commodity we need to live in our modern society. How we handle and reverence money can well affect our happiness, mental health and our relationships with others. Money is one of the three leading causes for divorce. For those of you who are Christians, Christ said to the wealthy young man who wanted to follow Christ, ‘sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come after me.’ The young man was sad for he had many possessions, and he walked away from Christ. Therefore, in my opinion, money may bring some comfort and security, but the fixation on money and possessions and having to pile them higher and deeper, can cause much anguish, and heartache. There are those that envy others with who have wealth, or see them as evil, and want to take some of that money away, to give it to the poor, or maybe just themselves.
Where is this all leading? Not just a sermon on the evils of money worship, but more on planning for the future. Last evening watching PBS, Suze Orman, personal financial advisor, was dispensing money advice, and most particularly advice on planning for retirement. The best piece of advice all evening was “LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS”. If you live within your means, you are most likely spending all of your income, with little or none left for savings and retirement. If you can afford a 2,500 square foot house, buy a 1,500 or 2,000 square foot house. If your car is 3 years old and you get the itch to buy a new one, keep the old one until its ten years old. If you think you need a new fishing boat, or hunting gun, save up for several years, maybe the urge will go away, or you may think about what you will have when you retire, or will your children have enough money for college. If you go shopping, first check your closet and dresser, do you have clothes that you never wear or only wear once or twice a year. You get the idea.
If you live below your means, there is some left to save, and some of that should go into a retirement account. For most individuals, that will be an IRA, or ROTH IRA. Most experts have agreed that Social Security will still be available in the future, but at an older starting age, and perhaps means tested, if you have income and/or assets above a given limit, your benefits will be reduced or eliminated. In addition, there is much talk about companies not being able to or willing to afford some employee benefits, such as medical coverage, and retirement pensions. Many companies have reduced or eliminated both. Save for your retirement!!!!
Even for those of us who are retired it is a good idea to live below our means, there is less stress, and something to give to charity. In our household, our donation is the first check written each month, we believe all that we have is a gift; our wealth, time, and talent, which are meant to be shared. Yes, we still write checks for our bills.