Dud's blog
31 01 2024

Wed, 31 Jan 2024

Life advice from an old person

Financial advice

  1. If your company offers a retirement savings program, and especially if they offer funds matching, then join the program and contribute the maximum. The matching is free money. There is no downside. In the worst case, you leave the company before the vesting kicks in, and you get your own money back.
  2. Save money every month. Accumulate it in a high interest savings account, like that offered by Credit Karma as of this writing (2024-January).
  3. Open an account at Vanguard and invest in an index fund. Periodically move money from the high interest savings account into this investment. Don’t touch it until you retire. Ask an accountant what you should do to defer income taxes on this money until retirement.
  4. If you have a spouse/partner and can afford it, buy long term care insurance. This insurance pays out if you are incapacitated and need either home nursing or nursing at a facility. Think “late stage Alzheimers”. Without this insurance, the cost of this care will bankrupt most households, leaving your spouse/partner penniless. If you don’t get sick enough to ever need the benefit, you (or your estate) can get the money back, with interest. This insurance must be purchased before you are “old” (70 in the case of my insurance company). It’s also cheaper if purchased earlier (more benefits/premium dollar).
With luck, if you do all of the above, you won’t have to live in a cardboard box when you’re 70. Note that Social Security alone is not enough to live on.

Personal life advice

  1. If your spouse suggests you do something with them, that you wouldn’t ordinarily do on your own (go camping, or go dancing, or travel, etc), try to agree and do the thing. Your marriage will be stronger for it, and you’ll both be happier.
  2. Unless you’re stupid wealthy, vote for Democrats. The Republicans are not your friends, and the only thing they do is give tax breaks to the rich.
  3. Take all your vacation time from work. Not taking vacation is leaving money on the table. Your company has no loyalty to you or any employee. If business conditions change, or a manager get promoted, or the CEO has a bad meal, you can be laid off “in a New York minute”. You owe them nothing more than your job description, and in return, they give you money. The relationship is entirely transactional. Of course, if you like doing your job, you can certainly spend overtime on it, but don’t expect the company to take note of this or reward you (except for OT pay for you non-exempt workers).
  4. If you can afford to, travel. See how others live. Be open-minded. Try not to be the ugly American, complaining about the food (because it isn’t like “at home”), or the local culture. People eat dinner at 10PM in Spain. A “full English breakfast” is a lot different from standard American fare. They drive on the “wrong” side of the road in the U.K, Australia, and Japan.

More here as I think of it.

Bill Dudley
January 2024

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