Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Should Save Money Right Now

This is not the most interesting or even the most exciting topic in the world, but for people of any age, it is one of the most important of your life (with the fate of your immortal soul being unarguably more important). Whether you are 61 or 21, saving money can make a big difference in your later years.

For those older folks, this is much more of a reality than to those in their 20s like myself; you have to prepare for retirement. Social Security is broke. You cannot rely on the government to provide for your retirement. The treasury is broke, your state is broke, your municipality is broke. Years of fat contracts to union workers, welfare spending, and fascist economic management has deprived our governments of any possibility of fulfilling future contracts. The US budget alone pays nearly 25% of all expenditures to maintenance of federal debt. In other words, a quarter of all expenditures are just interest payments. Try to imagine that you had so much debt that 25% of your income (and actually more than that since government is always running a deficit) went to interest payments on your credit cards. You would declare bankruptcy in no time. The government is essentially bankrupt, so you have to prepare for your own retirement, and the sooner you do it, the better.

There is only one way to become rich: save and invest. Sure, there are those who live off of an inheritance or who stumbled upon an oil field in their backyard, but it's time to get real, that isn't going to happen for you or for me. Part of being an adult is being responsible, and one of the easiest ways to become responsible is to grow your wealth and save money. The best reason to save money is for a rainy day. You never know when you will have a job loss, an illness, or any big expense. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you will have no way of dealing with these issues besides going in debt. Remember, debt is the biggest hindrance to growing your wealth. When you owe people money, and that sum gets bigger just because of interest payments, you're going the wrong direction. So have a rainy day fund. Second of all, with savings, you get the benefit of compound interest. For instance, if you save just $100 a year, in 25 years you will have saved $2500. With 8% interest (a big underestimate), you will have an extra $5000. That's basically $5000 in free money! And all you had to do was save $100 a month.

It is all well and good to be mindful of your future, but don't ignore the present either. Sure, you could save money by eating really bad food, working all the time, and just being miserable, but at some point present losses outweigh future gains. Ask yourself whether going without something is worth your future expected earnings. In general it is better to do without, but not always. Make a plan and be prepared for your future, and you will have security for yourself and your children. Don't put this off for some day, start budgeting now!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quote from Cicero: On Old Age

Cicero, using the voice of Cato the Elder: "You may be sure, my dear Scipio and Laelius, that the arms best adapted to old age are culture and the active exercise of the virtues. For if they have been maintained at every period - if one has lived much as well as long - the harvest they produce is wonderful, not only because they never fail us even in our last days (though that in itself is supremely important), but also because the consciousness of a well - spent life and the recollection of many virtuous actions are exceedingly delightful."

This is a theme that I have come across more than a few times now while reading the classics. Specifically on the theme of death, or in this case old age, the ancients constantly harp on the point that we should look back on our lives and be sure that we are pleased with what we have done. That is, we must live virtuously and not squandering our team on amoral pursuits. 

So what about you. What are you doing to prepare for your death? Are you preparing a saving fund? What about your virtues and your character. Have you also been preparing and developing that?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ready to Take on Syria?

I was listening to the radio today and heard some neo-con talking like some expert about what is going on in Syria. Nevermind the fact that his position was quite clear by the rhetoric he used (the Assad "regime") though he tried to come across as unbiased. The guy was making an asinine point. He says yes, Assad needs to go because he has huge stockpiles of chemical weapons and we can't allow these to get into the hands of enemies (sound familiar?). Then he says that we should be wary of supporting the opposition because they may not support us (well duh, you'll be hard pressed to find people in the Middle East that support the US government after all the meddling it's done). But nonetheless, we must provide air support because Assad needs to go. Why? Because it will leave us with at least some influence. Sure, and that air support will also gain more hatred and disillusionment with the US. Is this really what we want? Many innocent people would die from such air strikes, and we would be taking sides in a war that I don't see a clear "better" side in, but ignored all that, says the neo-con. We have to do something!

Meanwhile, will you find Obama or Romney disagreeing on the subject? Of course not. What a sham of an election we have this year.