Parents’ attitudes toward money and kids

As parents, we pick up a fair amount of information from other parents. There’s some good advice, some bad advice, and then there are opinion surveys. Even though I tend to second-guess the way some of the questions are phrased, I like opinion surveys because they are a window into what large numbers of other people […]


Time or money?

It’s a common dilemma: When you are young, say just getting out of college, you tend to have plenty of free time but little money. Later, as your career takes off, you start to have more money but less time. It would be nice to have both time and money at the same stage of […]


Sympathy for the banker

Bankers are not easy to love. In fact, from the mean old man in “It’s a Wonderful Life” to the bonus-baby CEOs who put the world through the financial crisis a few years ago, bankers have become a class of citizen that people love to hate. Like a lot of hatred, though, that sentiment might […]


Is borrowing money a form of addiction?

In writing about household debt, as I often do, I sometimes feel a bit like Tom Wolfe writing the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: I’m trying to capture the character of a strange phenomenon while not myself taking part in it. Throughout my adult life, I have avoided taking on debt as much as possible and […]


Are you investing or betting?

To my way of thinking, putting your money behind the Bitcoin represents a bet rather than an investment. Of course, the distinction can be confusing — outside of sports pages, the place you might most often see people referring to bets is in the financial news. Any large or prominent financial stake in something is […]


Making smarter investments in education

I recently signed what I’ve been assured will be my last tuition check. My younger son, who is finishing up grad school, looked at me with a mixture of bemusement and annoyance when I referred to it as “my day of jubilee, ” but who wouldn’t celebrate having such a big expense removed from their […]


The world as we know it

I have a brother who is a history teacher, and a son who is on his way to becoming one. For me, history was one of my least favorite subjects in school, but now it represents a major portion of my reading. Studying financial history early in my career may have been the turning point. When […]


Was 2013 a turning point (and what should you do about it)?

Sometimes history is obvious at the time; other times, key turning points become clear only in retrospect. The better people are able to recognize when such a change has occurred, the more sound their financial decisions they will be. 2008 stands out as the year that a financial crisis gripped the world; but looking back, […]


Preaching financial moderation

It may be old age creeping on, but I seem to increasingly find my financial advice advocating moderation — a balance between two more extreme courses of action. The following are several examples: Personal budgeting. I’ve been known to be an obsessive planner, but I don’t actually have a household budget. I take more of a […]


What do you consider risk?

This hard-charging stock market — up more than 23 percent for the first ten months of 2013 — has me regularly cautioning about the riskiness of what may be inflated prices. I think it’s an important message under the circumstances, but it’s hardly the last word about financial risk. While the devastating impact of stocks […]