March 1, 2012
Retirement Security Set by Life Decisions
Looking back on a lifetime of financial decisions from Squared Away on Vimeo.
In the second of two videos, retirees from the Savin Hill Apartments in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood spoke honestly about the decisions they made during their working lives that have affected their financial security in retirement. The residents come from all walks of life and from home towns ranging from Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland, and Thomasville, Alabama, to around the corner in East Boston.
The first video can be viewed here.
February 28, 2012
Getting by on Social Security
Retirement: Getting by on Social Security from Squared Away on Vimeo.
Before retiring, James Gomes said he often wasted his regular paychecks from General Electric. Arlene Starr wishes she’d saved – like her sister did. And immigrant Trung Quang Pham’s low income made it tough to set money aside.
They are residents of the Savin Hill Apartments in Boston, most of whom are “pretty much on fixed incomes,” said apartment manager Sandra Baker of CMJ Management Co.
They are not alone either. Millions of retirees rely on Social Security’s fixed monthly pensions, which average $1,181. The federal pension program provides the vast majority of retirement income for nearly one in four retired couples and nearly half of the elderly living alone. And new research for the first time determined that a large swath of the elderly leave this world with little or no assets left in savings and personal retirement accounts.
In the first of two videos, retirees in the Savin Hill Apartments generously agreed to discuss the issues they face for Squared Away. The second video – about their financial decisions and regrets over a lifetime – appears Thursday. …Learn More
February 21, 2012
Investment Humor Not an Oxymoron
You have to admire a financial writer and editor with the guts to put this on his LinkedIn profile: “While many Wall Street people go to Harvard or Yale University to learn about business, Ron went to art school.”
The cartoons shown here are in a humorous financial book by Ronald DeLegge 2d, who said he first earned his chops as an insurance salesman at a small Midwestern company that eventually became part of AIG. His cartoons appear in “Gents with no ¢ents: A closer look at Wall Street, its customers, financial regulators, and the media.” Dave Clegg was the illustrator.
February 9, 2012
The Science Fiction of Financial Markets
A lot of us feel when we look at the Dow Jones plunging [that] we’re in the grip of some alien force that slips human control. — Novelist Robert Harris
The stock market in May 2010 seemed to “come alive” when it swooned 1,000 points within minutes, Harris said in a bone-chilling radio interview that’s worth a listen for Main Street investors.
His new thriller, “The Fear Index,” which the London Telegraph called “unputdownable,” is about a hedge fund manager. But in the interview, Harris expressed his desire to take readers beyond the business reporter’s technical explanations for the market’s wild swings up or down. A solitary, $4 billion trade, the media widely reported, caused the 2010 Flash Crash that left an impression on the novelist. As Europe teeters on recession, it’s anyone’s guess how the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock market index has managed to soar more than 7 percent since Jan. 1.
Wall Street experts may be able to make sense of a hair-trigger market, but Harris’s sci-fi explanation is appealing to the rest of us. He invokes the imagination – or, perhaps I should say, the artificial intelligence lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
To hear Harris’ interview on National Public Radio, click here.Learn More
January 26, 2012
Questioning Wall Street Convention
Walk into your financial adviser’s or broker’s office, and the conversation inevitably leads to your portfolio’s “asset allocation” and “total return.”
Financial planners, the media, investors – we’ve been under Wall Street’s spell for three decades. But a small chorus of skeptics, bucking the orthodoxy, argues that brokers and planners don’t always match investments with an individual’s goals and needs. The human gets lost – in more ways than one.
“People are being guided by the asset management industry,” said Boston University finance professor Zvi Bodie, co-author, with consultant Rachelle Taqqu, of “Risk Less and Prosper: Your Guide to Safer Investing.”
The industry’s premise is that “you can’t afford not to take risk,” he said, referring to the tenet that more risk means a larger potential return. But what happens if you roll the dice and lose? “They never say that,” he said.
Keen to this critique, Barclays in London and a few other large investment houses have started pitching wealthy clients by focusing on their “unique” circumstances.Learn More
January 3, 2012
Research Illuminates Credit Card Habit
It’s 2012, so kiss the money spent last month goodbye. But if any skeptics out there still need confirmation, here it is:
Academic research shows that compulsive purchases are more likely with credit cards, which put distance, in space and time, between the act of buying the item and paying for it.
“The pain of paying is somewhat dulled” by using plastic, Priya Raghubir at New York University and Joydeep Srivastava at the University of Maryland, show in their research paper titled, “Monopoly Money: The Effect of Payment Coupling and Form on Spending Behavior.”
If reducing your use of credit cards – even converting to a cash budget – is a New Year’s resolution, click “learn more” at the bottom of this post to see six previous articles on Squared Away about credit card behavior and psychology. They might help readers better understand a bad habit many of us share. …Learn More
November 22, 2011
Game Highlights Tough Choices for Poor
In May, Squared Away’s very first post was about an eye-opening “game” in which players take on the role of someone who is poor. The player is assigned a job and a paycheck. Every financial decision ricochets through the monthly budget, often in unexpected ways. Lives, children, and work choices are affected – poverty even creates unique ethical decisions.
The game, Spent, is so powerful, because its creators interviewed clients of Urban Ministries of Durham in North Carolina, which operates a food pantry, clothing closet, and homeless shelter. A local advertising firm, McKinney, designed the game in conjunction with Urban Ministries.
To play Spent, click here.
To read more, click here.Learn More