All posts tagged: Saving

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Margit’s Note: Are We Halfway to the Rainy Day?

I don’t plan on retiring. Or maybe I’ve just never put much thought into it. Ok, let’s be honest. I actively avoid thinking about it. My mom, a septuagenarian, still works and my Dad, just a bit older than that (though he’s told me he’s 29 for as long as I can remember) only recently retired in the last few years. He still does volunteer work at such a clip that it might as well be a full-time job. They love what they do, it isn’t exactly work, it’s a livelihood. I feel the same way about my work — writing, editing and making fabulous web sites. So why retire? I know — life has a way of interrupting the best laid plans. I’m hopeful I can do what I do until I keel over and, ideally, get paid for it. It’s a terrible course of action. It’s the classic Gen-X approach to retirement: “Gen-X is sleeping through its retirement wake-up call. Starting to turn 50, they’re acting like they’re 30.” Who, me? Don’t get …

I Bank at McDonalds: Confessions of a Personal Finance Writer

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) People assume that I’m good with money because I write about it. I’m better than most. I’ve managed to keep my housing costs below-market in one of America’s most expensive cities for the past two decades. I dutifully sock away 15 percent of my salary (amplified by that oh-so-nice company match) in a retirement plan. I’ve paid off my loans for grad school as well as a car. But I do make questionable financial decisions. Here are four of my deepest, darkest money secrets. 1. I bank at McDonald’s. I know where every McDonald’s is within a 20-block radius from my office. And it’s not for the Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish or French Fries. While I rarely (maybe one out of every 100 visits) consume any food at Mickey Dees, aside from the occasional black-and-white shake, it’s where I get cold, hard cash. That’s because I bank at a credit union which has limited brick-and-mortar locations. But the credit union’s banking network allows you to use ATMs at any New York City McDonald’s, …

The Embarrassing and Inventive Ways My Dad Saved Money

Dad, eyeing another deal. Dad was a Depression-era baby. My siblings and I always assumed this was the reason for his notoriously thrifty ways. But now that I’ve  considered it further, I’m beginning to believe that it was a result of both nurture AND nature. I think Dad was actually born cheap. While my family had natural financial ups and downs, Dad continued to live as if we were still in the Depression, no matter how flush with cash we might have been. My family ran a small chain of Hallmark stores. Which was ironic since Dad saw the one-time use of greeting cards a foreign and unnecessary concept (we don’t think he planned to resell them, but no one knows for sure.) Every card we received from Dad, since the opening of the stores in the mid 1970s to his death a few years ago, was signed in pencil. After the occasion, he would erase his sentiments, with the intent to reuse the card. My sister Julie calls him “The Original Repurposer.” Hallmark carried …

Spending on Sunny Days: What My Mother’s Diagnosis Taught Me About Money

Growing up in Pittsburgh during the 1970s, I learned a few things: jobs can go away quickly, chronic unemployment can cause entire towns to wither, and the Steelers, unlike the industry they were named for, were invincible. During those years, steel mills closed one after another, but fortunately my family remained unaffected. My father worked for a nascent Allegheny Airlines, which became USAir, now US American Air (or whatever ultra-patriotic name they’ve now chosen to give it). Still, I remember the beginning of each school year when we’d go around the room and state our names, neighborhoods and other fun facts (like where your father worked). Sadly, the question was never where your mother worked; and for a couple of years, there weren’t many fathers working at all. Given that environment, I grew up with the understanding that money was a limited resource that should be saved, put away for retirement and rainy days. Like, Russell-Crowe-in-an-Ark rainy days.  My parents made it clear early on that my choices for college were to either get a …