07 May 2007

Several thoughts for a monday morning

Starbucks, why must you tempt me?

Some mornings I just wake up and need a chai latte from Starbucks.A Chai and a blueberry muffin make a terrific breakfast. Too bad it's more than six bucks to get this breakfast at Starbucks, and nobody else makes a chai like they do. So this morning, like most mornings, I resisted the urge. I came to work, sans chai, and now I'll just think about it longingly as I sip my bad coffee instead. I don't want to deprive myself of everything good just because it's more expensive than I'd like, but if I can stop myself, say, 5 out of 6 times, I'll save quite a bit of money. And when it comes to the chai and muffin at Starbucks, 5 times means more than 30 bucks-- or almost two shares of Vanguard's Small Cap Value Index Fund (VISVX).


If only I could be Roger Clemens

Clemens just signed with the Yankees to play another season at the age of 45. He'll start pitching in the Yankees' farm system in about 2 weeks. His pay for a partial season? A mere $18.5 million. Let's not forget that Clemens is a starting pitcher as well-- so not only will he just play for the yankees for 1/2 to 2/3 of the season, but he'll only pitch 1 in every 6 games for them when he does join the team. If you do the math, depending on the assumptions, he'll make somewhere in the $50k and $100k range per batter he faces. Not bad for a couple of minutes of work.

Do you do your own yardwork?

I do. My girlfriend and I mowed the lawn and planted some annuals yesterday. I can't stand the thought of paying somebody $25/hr or more to mow my lawn. It seems that more and more people are hiring lawncare services to at least mow-- and often to seed, fertilize, etc. as well. The lawncare companies make money hand over fist from this. Put your gloves and an old t-shirt on and do it yourself, America. Your savings will thank you.

Gen X and Gen Y woefully undersave for retirement

Big surprise, right? JLP over at AllFinancialMatters talks about this a little in his post Young People All But Ignore Planning for Retirement. English Major also has some words about the same article in
The Kids Are Alright. I have to agree with English Major's points on the subject-- few people under 26 can afford to max out their 401k even if they want to. There's no way I could do it right now. With no mortgage and no car loan? Yes. But that's not exactly realistic.

However, JLP brings up some really important points. First, the table he cites is troubling not in the % who max out their 401k, but in the % who participate at all. Less than 1/3 of those under 26 and less than 2/3 of those under 42 participate in their company's 401k. Second, he brings up the need for personal finance education in our schools. If people, on average, knew a little more about finance, would we have the big rash of foreclosures and the huge credit card debts that we see? I'd like to think not.

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