Search results for fiscal fitness

The 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness

Posted on: Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
Posted in: | 4 comments

(Because ten is not enough)

For most folks, money (or lack thereof) is the primary stated reason why they can’t manage a BreakAway. It’s true that amassing and managing the necessary funds can be a challenging task. But it needn’t be complicated or painful. Here are some simple suggestions to help you get ahead—so you can get away.

  • Live under your means—no matter what that means.
  • Save 10% or more.
  • Gradually sock away months, then years, of living expenses.
  • Max out on matching programs, good IRAs, and other no-brainers.
  • Get tax smart.
  • Know when the price tag is too high—financially, environmentally, and ethically.
  • Know credit—or no credit!
  • Invest your long-term assets as aggressively as you can stomach. (Long-term means at least five years.)
  • You can’t take it with you—so plan to have nothing to take.
  • Nothin

Recession Forecast: Dark & Stormy

Posted on: Thursday, September 20th, 2018
Posted in: Spendology | Leave a comment

After a long and self-indulgent break, the Spendology category is pleased to get off the recliner and return to the turf of BreakAway. And thus ends the good news—and the party. Because we are here to predict that the U$A is exactly two years away (or less, maybe much) from the next recession. Duh.

Market timing remains a foolish and dangerous sport. So “SELL” makes little sense. But neither does “BUY.” So here’s our best recommendation: “GO!”

  • Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans (or not)

Stick to your plan, of course. If you have one. But if you’re like most Merrkuns, you don’t. Even worse, a recent LAT article made a painfully compelling case that most of us have not improved our fiscal fitness since armpit of the last downturn. Yep, despite the longest uptick in our history, our natio

Career Breaks: Better When Not Broke

Posted on: Sunday, March 6th, 2016
Posted in: Spendology | Leave a comment

This week, Fast Company released a sobering article for anyone drunk on debt or worried about an economy that’s become a tipsy house of (credit) cards. Stephanie Vozza shares her family’s saga about getting spanked in arrears—and then launching into a bold recovery program and emerging debt-free. Her relief is palpable.

Equally evident is that choking sensation happening to the millions who are deeply underwater.

  • How bad is it?

Some pop shrinks say it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others. But in this case, please do. If you can’t—because you don’t know your own numbers—you may be in the camp of the clueless and hopeless who are worse off than these “average” folks.

According to Nerdwallet, here are 5 debt amounts of the average American…

~ $15K                       Cred

Digital Nomads See the World & Get Paid

Posted on: Monday, January 18th, 2016
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle | Leave a comment

Join the digital nomads and me as we conquer the world!

Who needs a self-funded career break or paid sabbatical? We all do! But who goes global and gets paid? Digital nomads—who need only a laptop, a tech-savvy skill, and some seed money to get off the ground and land…most anywhere!

Local journalist Kevyn Burger penned yet another fascinating story for the Star Tribune. If you’re stuck, but your dreams aren’t, read it and reap. Meantime, my highlights…

  • Life may cost less “over there”

Alicia and John Gregoire have been working all over and report that the dollar may stretch much further abroad than at home. I can echo that—with rich memories that include buying wine in Italy for $40 that was fetching $255 here and dwelling in a posh beach house in New Zealand for $80 a day.

  • You may already have (FB) friends all over

The a

What If YOU Won the Lottery?

Posted on: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

Oh my.  A month has gone by. I last wrote about taking vacations—including from devices—and must have been truly inspired by my own ideas! But thus the blogging sabbatical ends. And speaking of inspiration…

  • Local lottery winners say, “meh”

A married couple not far from here just won nearly $12 million, and seem appropriately pleased but surprisingly unfazed by their luck. The Star Tribune reports these heart-warming quotes

“I have a fabulous job, and I like to work. I actually have to work tonight,” says Wife, of her waiting-tables job at the charming Lake Elmo Inn.

“I don’t think it’s going to change our lives that much,” ponders Husband.

“We really hope it doesn’t change the people around us,” suggests Wife.

There you have it: Real winners! Just folks that are suddenly rich, yet obviously h

What If YOU Won the Lottery?

Posted on: Saturday, September 13th, 2014
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

Oh my.  A month has gone by. I last wrote about taking vacations—including from devices—and must have been truly inspired by my own ideas! But thus the blogging sabbatical ends. And speaking of inspiration…

Local lottery winners say, “meh”

A married couple not far from here just won nearly $12 million, and seem appropriately pleased but surprisingly unfazed by their luck. The Star Tribune interviews the lucky couple here and shares these heart-warming quotes…

“I have a fabulous job, and I like to work. I actually have to work tonight,”

says Wife, of her waiting-tables job at the charming Lake Elmo Inn.

“I don’t think it’s going to change our lives that much,”

ponders Husband.

“We really hope it doesn’t change the people around us,”

suggests Wife.

There you have it: Real winners! Just folk

Prepping to Leave: An A to Z Guide

Posted on: Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Blog | 2 comments

One night next week, the travel gurus at Meet, Plan, Go Minneapolis will have me serve as an Expert in “Prepping to Leave.”

Ish! I mean, that’s often the hardest part of a career break. Still, it pays to plan ahead, big time. So here’s a witty A to Z guide that may make your BreakAway exit a bit less stressful.

  • A is for ARMY KNIFE. Be it Swiss, Victorinox, or Acme, the many timeless tools tucked inside can come in handy. Highly recommended: the corkscrew.
  • B is for BARF BAG. Laugh if you must, but they’re complimentary from (most) airlines, and can be useful for food, garbage, or—God forbid—barf.  Travel much? Hey, it happens!
  • C is for CURRENCY. Cash is king in many places. And if you visit multiple countries, you’ll get multiple math lessons. But use your credit card when you can—and get one that charges no conversion f

Postcards from the Ledge

Posted on: Friday, June 29th, 2012
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | Leave a comment

My thanks to Keane, publisher of BargaNews.com, for this shout-out endorsement—which included the above photo of me sitting outside Aristo’s bar, surrounded by Tuscan mountains, writing postcards.

Keane writes:

The following just popped up on the net.

It is republished here in full as the man has a way with words and has a clear understanding of just what it means to spend time in Barga.

That brief meeting which Kirk talks about was featured as well in the DAILY IMAGE that day.

There he is sitting outside Aristo’s writing postcards.

The image was taken because it featured two things that might not always be there in the near future – postcards are becoming something of a scarcity for many people and the euro change sitting on the table next to the cards.

Will there still be the Euro in Italy in a year’s time ?R

Freedom from Financial Angst

Posted on: Monday, July 4th, 2011
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

What does freedom mean to you?  Americans continue to feud about that question like the Hatfields and McCoys.  But to this Yankee, personal freedom means, above all, freedom from financial angst.  Life is too short to spend it fretting about debt, regret, and lost dreams.

  • Money Maven Kara McGuire Suggests 5 Tips

It’s not that hard to get out of the red.  Just yesterday, the Star Tribune’s “Your Money” column offered 5 tips that may be easier read than done, but can help achieve financial indpendence.  The author suggests spending some holiday weekend time (on the hammock) pondering these sensible ideas.

Like…

  1. Revisit your retirement-saving regimen.
  2. Teach your children well—including common sense about dollars and cents.
  3. Free yourself from debt.  ‘Nuff said.
  4. Just say no, thank you, to pr

American (Money) Idiots

Posted on: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment

We Merr’kuns may still be learning our money math. But if a downturn is good for anything, it’s for ruthless fiscal forehead-gripping—for economists and Joe 6-Packs alike. 

The good news:  Americans are reducing their credit card usage.  In fact, more than 8 million people stopped actively using their cards in the past year.  Now a big part of that is because many folks have gotten their swiper taken away.  But maybe we’re also wising up, and those 20-something interest rates just don’t interest us any more. Still, the sad fact remains that the average credit card balance hovers around $5,000.  Ugh.

The bad news: Our college students admit to overall cluelessness about managing their own money, and (of course) blame their parents.  (Duh!)  

The latest digits…

  • 77% of students said they did