Spendology

America’s REAL Divide Is $$$$

Posted on: Monday, October 12th, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Rants & Roadkill, Spendology | Leave a comment

GUEST POST: Today’s thoughts come from our old mentor and friend, The Armchair Economist. It’s been a while, so we’re honored he’s back. His resume and accolades would not fit on our pages—nor even the internet. So we again welcome his incomparable expertise and vital voice for this treatise on the challenges of BreakAways in current economic conditions.

  • America’s Haves Vs. Have-Nots Is Now in Stark Black-and-White

As Submitted by The Armchair Economist

My friends! I cannot sit back in silence on my luxurious llama leather recliner sipping Louis XIII Cognac while brushing up on my John Locke any longer. Please pay attention. Or a revolution like we’ve never seen since the 1770s may be an inevitable consequence.

Consider our record unemployment. Government aid in the trillions. Lavish bailouts for corporations, airlines, and most any big-ish business that knows how to play the game and liquor up lobbyists. A few honest syndicates sheepishly returned their mega millions. But most kept the cash despite often churning profits, perhaps chuckling between griping about government over-reach and lazy laborers accepting handouts rather than “gittin’ back to work,” even if it also might mean gittin’ sick.

Generalizations? Perhaps. But maybe not. And with those dispiriting variables as our backdrop, the Armchair Economist is displeased to announce that…

  • The wealth gap is bigger than ever before

According to my friends at the Fed (WE can’t make this stuff up), the pandemic-downturn has actually helped the haves—because they are unable to spend lavishly in their beloved parlors, country clubs, restaurants, and opera houses. Sadly, their diminished patronage equates to lost livelihoods for millions of waiters, chamber maids, and pedicurists.

(Oh, and many investments like the stock market and real estate are doing swimmingly, thank you very much.)

  • Need proof of the disparity?

The top 1% now holds a record high 40% of US assets

The bottom 50% now shares a record low 2% of the nation’s wealth

Inequality will likely worsen as more workers lose jobs while the affluent keep raking it in yet cannot resume their conspicuous-consumption, jet-set ways

  • So how does that hit home?

1 in 3 Americans are having a tough time paying basic living expenses

~10 million are behind or at risk of making their mortgage or rent

1 in 4 adults expect someone in their household to have less $ over the next month

So my friends, please don’t underestimate the dire consequences of these inequities. This holiday season may make Mr. Scrooge’s bleak fable look lush. Homeless villages may come to resemble India’s slums, not just tents in parks. Beggars on corners may battle over worthy intersections.

  • Who cares?

But who cares? That’s an intellectually, if immorally, puzzling question. And that’s what troubles this scholar and embarrassingly successful capitalist…who DOES care. And will vote. And will donate bazillions to the kindly causes that try to fight back against SuperTanker FilthyRich. But we need more than that—more resources, more action, more…fair and balanced humanity.

After all, for example, my very close personal friend Kirk, your Curator and Host here at BreakAway, simply wants everyone to get healthful, meaningful, time off. To take care of their loved ones. To get out of town—or tent. And to see the world (or a slice of it), whatever that may mean to the individualist, as allowed and affordable and safe. Everyone wins—even the proverbial property owners whose profits may depend on those of lower class (caste?) having coinage with which to splurge on simple pleasures.

Any alternative could get ugly. And who wants to experience unrest (what an understatement!) and stupid plundering if the working class can’t afford proper anger management courses while the rich and classless keep getting richer?

  • In conclusion…

Here’s the hardest part: There’s enough for everyone. At least in this land (is your land, is my land). Unless the greedy build even bigger walls than that one Mexico kindly built for us. And refuse to share their many toys, like so many spoilt brats.

That sounds like no fun, for anyone. Let’s hope we’re BIGGER…than that. All of us. And that the 1% with 40% realizes the slimy slope between lucky success and greedy narcissism. Otherwise, well, the tea may get dumped in the harbor. And frankly, it’s already dirty.

The economy—and possibly CIVILization as we know it—are in the imbalance.

As Mr. Horsted would say, and I try to repeat as my mantra, “Keep the faith.”

“Those least able to shoulder the burden have been the hardest hit.”

— Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

* * * * * SOURCES ARE ONGOING BUT HEREIN INCLUDE…

The Fed

Census Bureau Weekly Pulse Survey 

https://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/us-household-wealth-hits-record-even-as-economy-struggles/XSYAV7HE3BBI5NCLIAXRYTYBAU/

https://www.startribune.com/median-households-made-gains-but-the-large-wealth-gap-remained-data-show/572569632/

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Stuff is Making Us Stuck (Part 2)

Posted on: Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, Spendology, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Last month, in Part 1, we dove into our junk piles and bemoaned the detritus that weighs on us, our culture, and our shifting populations. We continue that slog by taking a peek into where our rejected stuff goes.

It’s not pretty. In fact, the benevolent feeling we may enjoy when dropping off our rejects to charity might be just plain ignorant. Ex-Minnesotan Adam Minter, now a columnist for Bloomberg in Malaysia, provides a rare expert overview, having grown up in a Minneapolis family that has run a scrap heap since 1920s, published a book titled “Junkyard Planet,” and late last year released a follow-up book called “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale.” Mr. Minter also did an interesting Star Tribune interview when recently in town.

  • “People like shiny new things”

States Minter. It’s human nature, yet he advocates making things last as long as possible. How? Buy quality, for starters! Not only can you enjoy it longer, but the reuse market should be more plausible. He also recommends repair, despite that cheap goods often sway us just to replace. Another idea: Seek second-hand stuff, since a heckuva lot of it is nearly new.

  • What else causes this glut?

You may have noticed this: Often, the merch in Marshall’s has about the same price tag as that in consignment stores. Why? Because the mass production of goods—especially when lower-quality—can be surprisingly price-competitive. So people buy new, and second-hand stores get less traffic.

In fact, Minter notes that thrift stores in the US sell only about a third of their inventory, while the rest gets exported, recycled or tossed in the trash. Ouch.

  • Will millennials save us?

Much has been made about their less materialistic lifestyle. But don’t bet on it, says Minter, who cites research suggesting that the shared economy only appeals when it’s cheaper. And that as the millennials accrue more spending power and maturity, they’ll buy happily acquire more, just like other generations.

  • Good ideas to help clean up this mess

As mentioned, Minter promotes repair before replace, and insisting on quality. But even more radical, common-sense solutions could include “durability labeling,” which tells you things like how long a company will support smart phone or how many washings a shirt might endure.

He also proposes “right to repair” laws, noting that much repair information is protected by companies, trademarks, trade barriers, and more. Brilliant.

  • Sins and solutions

We can all think about our own sins and solutions, of course. And here’s one of mine: Sin—buying lots of new clothing recently at insanely affordable January clearance sales. (When asked who’s my favorite designer, I always say Clearance!) Solution: Spread it all out alongside similar old favorites, and make smart choices about what to keep and what to return.

Heck, sometimes that nice $15 shirt hardly seems worth the bother to take back, right? But there’s principal at work here too. And $15 is $15. Save $15 a day somehow, and you’ve got $5,500 to apply toward that BreakAway you want more than more stuff.

Even better, there will be less clutter-y obstacles in your way!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Stay Bullish

Posted on: Friday, November 1st, 2019
Posted in: Spendology, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
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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 national personal debt has actually risen…from $12.7 to $13.3 trillion.

Last spring, CNBC reported that 1/3 of Americans have less than $5k saved for retirement, while 78% are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about having enough for their golden years. Naturally, we’re all also getting older. Meantime, youngsters are afraid of making babies and our “leaders” are afraid of immigrants. So, absent willing & able taxpayers, the next bust could be particularly painful on our aging populace (and bodies).

Let’s not even go into the recent tax cuts that may ultimately benefit only certain lucky citizens certain large corporations. Meanwhile, our government will go wa-a-a-ay deeper into debt. It’s the American Way, right?

  • Stupid students, etc.

Student loans are the new cash sow and guilty party. And really, let’s hope they’re enjoying their bookish bash because when the crash comes and they enter the Real World, the party’s over. Ironically (or not), the brain trust in DC is the loan shark here. And FBOW, they go all Soprano about collections: Death may be ex-students’ only option to escape paying somehow, somewhere, someday. But hey, as a fellow Armchair Economist chuckled, “Student loans are a killer way to pump up the economy…because kids spend that cash immediately!”

Later, many of them kids can’t afford a house and are missing that rare boom moment. Rents soar, while wages stagnate like a draining swamp. “Fintech” loans have created a new way to float billions that, when the levee breaks, we have no idea who will sink and who will swim.

Speaking of sinking, remember in winter of 2009 when the S&P 500 hit an epic low of 6,443? You don’t? Good for you. Even better for you is if you bought (or at least held) in the 9 ½ years since—because you’ve nearly quadrupled your money! In record time!

  • Feel rich? Cash out and BreakAway

All to say…Buy low/get high applies. Right here and now is a GREAT moment to consider cashing out some gains and taking a sabbatical. Skip the second property. Punt the Porsche or vintage Pinto. Or if you’re like most folks and are still watching and waiting to get your financial act together, you may as well go anyhow.

What are you waiting for? The biggest boom in the history of Our Great Nation? Bummer if you missed it. Awesome if your ship came in.

Either way, it’s a good time to ship out. Winter is coming. Again. You ain’t getting any younger. It’d be a dirty rotten shame if your dreams died before you do.

Happy sails…

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Career Breaks: Better When Not Broke

Posted on: Sunday, March 6th, 2016
Posted in: Spendology | Leave a comment
IMG_0095

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                       Credit card

~ $26K                       Auto

~ $165K                      Mortgage

~ $47K                       Student loans (for the many who got ‘em)

~ $6+K                       Annual debt service (9% of HHI)

  • Too small to bail

You’ve heard the phrase, “Too big to fail.” That’s about the mega-banks with gazillions; the government tends to regulate them po-lightly and bail them out whenever they “spend” too much. In comparison, the crush of debtors crashing on tapped-out households looks more like a Soprano’s shakedown. Little mercy exists for the chronically strapped or bankrupt.

  • Poor mental wealth

So it’s no wonder that the article lists a litany of disorders and conditions from which the in-debt individual often suffers: stress; anxiety; depression; desperation; obesity; accelerated aging; risky behavior; heart attacks. Can you guess the favored therapy for treating these problems? Yep, spending. Now always one click away.

At some point, most broke folk fall into a what-the-hell downward spiral. What will happen if millions of families run out of get-out-of-debt cards at once? Stay tuned.

  • The trip at the end of the tunnel…

Despite the debt, Americans are traveling—more than ever. Alleluia! Postponing joy rarely helps. And a spring BreakAway investment to sun and sand might inspire the revelation that experiences matter more than materialistic expenditures.

After all, could there be a better reward for getting out of the red and into the black than flying off to the adventure of a lifetime and a future of balanced priorities and checkbooks?

Start with these simple 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness. Then calculate all your debt and savings and attempt a realistic strategy to break even. Then go for a walk. Meditate. Call your mom. Ditch the digitalia. And try spending time on things that cost little but mean much.

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Boomer Bust: Beware the Retirement Burst

Posted on: Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment
IMG_8723

“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life;

now that I am old I know that it is.” ~Oscar Wilde

  • Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.

We BreakAway artists advocate saving money and taking temporary retirement occasionally throughout your life—rather than waiting until your final years—even if it means working a few years longer before closing time. Most anyone can get excited about this idea. Few, however, can prudently pay for it.

Tragically, few will be able to afford perma-retirement either. And that applies particularly to Baby Boomers. All 76 million of us—many of whom have already begun (or delayed) our proverbial walk into the sunset. A recent article from the local paper’s special section, “The Good Life,” paints ugly pictures of stormy sunsets.

  • Consider the “facts” 

As always, research findings will vary. But in this case, the storyline remains consistent regardless of which digits you dig into. Consider these estimates from The National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) or the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)…

2/3 of households 55-64 (pre-retirees) have savings equal or less than their annual income

1/3 have no savings at all

The second study (EBRI) offers more optimism, but still stings…

57% of boomers are prepared to support themselves at their current standard of living

43% are not 

The outlook darkens for various groups, including women, people with serious health concerns, and minorities. And as for young people? Their future looks potentially rosier—because though they’ve also set aside little, they have more time to save. (Do you think they will?)

  • A dearth of bucks, but ample blame to go around

So how did we get here? After all, the current retired generation lives richly in comparison. Blame the death of the pension—which assured retirees a steady stream of income. Blame the rise of the self-funded, tax-free plans—which force folks to cut their income to save (or not). Blame the merciless markets of, oh, the last 28 years or so: Black Monday (1987); global crashes (late 1990s); the tech bubble bursting (2000); 9-11 (2001); the Great Recession (2007-09).

Not only has this unprecedented market mayhem repeatedly shattered nest-eggs, but it’s made would-be investors pull out at lows and forever fear investing. You can’t make money without stashing cash, embracing risk, and letting time work its magic.

The blame game never ends. Stagnant or decreasing wages (some say since the 1970s) means that even responsible, two-income families can be stretched. Income inequality continues to worsen, with the top 5% of Americans now controlling 54% of the assets, while the bottom 50% has 3% (NIRS). That’s rough, if not unethical. But nobody seems to want to do anything about it. We could go on and on.

  • Is a crisis (rather than nice walks on the beach) on the horizon?

Funny. We’ve heard a lot of grousing about the impending student loan bubble fallout. Everyone (particularly politicians) likes to gripe about Social Security and other entitlements going broke. A few of us (like myself) like to point out the mind-boggling materialism wave that has inspired us all to “need” so many things that our grandparents had never heard of to the point that shopping is a popular pastime and Goodwills turn down donations.

I mean, go to a high school with 50% free lunch and most students somehow enjoy the latest iPhone, fancy sneakers and hairdos, and of-the-moment duds. They may be hungry, and their abode may be cold. But most got stuff. Expensive stuff.

In the American household, meanwhile, there may be no retirement plan. But the place is probably abundant with cable plans, wifi plans, cellphone plans, laptops, kitchen gadgetry, recreational gear, monster media systems, late-model cars, and more (including, of course, debt).

I don’t know who pays for it all, or how. I don’t know how my fellow Boomers are going to fare in their golden (raven?) years. I do believe in market forces that somehow, gradually, fix things (sometimes). But I also know those markets can be ruthless and wrong. And they don’t really care about people, individuals—not even if millions of elder-Americans end up living in poverty. Markets care about money.

Money. Numbers on paper or puter screens. We call the category of this post “Spendology.” But perhaps “Saveology” would better fit today’s topic. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could save enough to take just one three-month sabbatical in their life?

Wouldn’t it be even better if everyone could save enough to enjoy several years of relaxing retirement?

Good luck with that.

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Stuff = Stress

Posted on: Monday, April 27th, 2015
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment
DSC_0346As the CFO of my household of four, I was forced into action recently when a pile of credit card statements finally got my attention, and were packed with pages of purchases for … who knows?

Dozens of Amazons (a company that doesn’t bother to specify the items). Various online purveyors of whatnots. Sports sites and cosmetic clubs and, worst of all, a few scams—that can take hours (months?) to unwind.

Shopping has become easier than ever: Click! And The Thing is on its way. No boring browsing, no pawing or fondling. Heck, trying something on and inspecting it for quality have become passé; just peruse a few reviews, and return The Thing (with free shipping!) if it fails to fit.

Is it any wonder that 40% of Americans state they have too much stuff? Is anyone surprised that the stuff storage industry is booming (with 76% of the stuff stuck away because it’s seasonal, sentimental or simply never used). Should we rejoice that our economy is enjoying a new burst (bubble?) of consumerism thanks to internet commerce? Fine. But the buck stops here.

  • This calls for executive orders

Though I rarely succumb to such extremes—because I know they may not work in the long run—I immediately wrote up and sent out a new procedure for making purchases. Now, there’s a form to fill out: Date, what, amount, from where, why. No pushing “buy” until a parent has initialed approval. And the discussion may include who’s paying. (Extravagant offspring can turn frugal fast when that $55 widget means gutting the piggy bank.)

The goals include stopping the Amazon flood, increasing our family’s mindfulness of greed, clutter, and the environment (Amazon’s packaging—ugh!), and making do with the backpack we have rather than assume the fancier new one will hold more happiness. Above all, we’ll all have one page of purchases to ponder: Transparency!

These life lessons start at home, and are more timely than ever with things like braces and college costs right around the corner. The cost of living keeps rising; does quality of life keep up?

Wish us luck on our new procurement policy; good thing I know better than to expect little more than a temporary rethink/reduce movement. Still, it’s helping. The orders seem to have slowed. We now have more conversations about stuff—and sometimes find a way to say no, make do, or seek a more creative (and less costly) solution.

  • A student essay on simplicity inspires                    

On the same day I was issuing restrictive dictums, I was poring over past student work to find a sample for the writing course I’m currently teaching. The best one—that serendipitously fit that day’s theme—was titled, “The Art of Being Creatively Simplistic: A Minimalistic Manifesto.” She wrote a touching, compelling piece that offers a heartfelt alternative to knee-jerk materialism.

In case you, too, could use some fresh guidance for your SMI (Stuff Management Issues), here are her…

  • 11 ideas for enlightened material restraint
  1. Don’t get in debt
  2. Work to get paid and meet your needs, not advance a career
  3. Live in a small space
  4. Get rid of excess material objects
  5. Reduce expenses
  6. Avoid the materialism of modern technology
  7. Exercise, stay physically capable
  8. Eat basic, wholesome foods
  9. Improve practical skills
  10. Serve your community
  11. Learn the value of true pleasures — nature, friends, art

Pretty simple stuff, right?

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What If YOU Won the Lottery?

Posted on: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment
DSC_0801

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 have been living rich, content lives all along. That’s what can happen when you do something approximating our 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness—which are as much about living well and sanely as they are about money management.

  • Is winning the lottery really “winning?”

Follow-up stories on lottery winners are rarely pretty. Too many “winners” quit their work, spend like crazy, and eventually end up jobless, possibly penniless, and even friendless.

Not long ago, for ex, media reported on a Minnesota young woman who had won millions and, some years later, mostly drove around her small town solo in her Hummer—while locals rolled their eyes and rumored that she’d spent it all, lost her career, and alienated her community.

Sometimes, all we need is right in front of us. As for all we want? Sometimes that stuff is just stuff, and we may be better off without it.

Best wishes to this model couple a few miles north of here. If I ever recognize them in a nearby pub, I’d like to buy them a drink and make a toast to their smarts.

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What If YOU Won the Lottery?

Posted on: Saturday, September 13th, 2014
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment
DSC_0801Oh 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 folks that are suddenly rich, yet obviously have been living rich, content lives all along. That’s what can happen when you do something approximating our 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness—which are as much about living well and sanely as they are about money management.

  • Is winning the lottery really “winning?”

Follow-up stories on lottery winners are rarely pretty. Too many “winners” quit their work, spend like crazy, and eventually end up jobless, possibly penniless, and even friendless.

Not long ago, for ex, media reported on a Minnesota young woman who had won millions and, some years later, mostly drove around her small town solo in her Hummer—while locals rolled their eyes and rumored that she’d spent it all, lost her career, and alienated her community.

Sometimes, all we need is right in front of us. As for all we want? Sometimes that stuff is just stuff, and we may be better off without it.

Best wishes to this model couple a few miles north of here. If I ever recognize them in a nearby pub, I’d like to buy them a drink and make a toast to their smarts.

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Airbnb: A $10 billion Idea?

Posted on: Friday, April 4th, 2014
Posted in: Spendology, Blog | Leave a comment
DSC_0006 - Version 2Here’s my hot stock tip: Consider taking some money out of the market (especially your internet allocation) and take a getaway, a winter vacation, or a full-on BreakAway. If you’ve stuck with stocks for the past four years, you’ve earned it! So, yes: Spend some money now!

  • First, the good news

We alterna-travelers have bought into one the biggest, brightest accommodations innovations since the lobby bar. Gone are the days when your holiday meant settling for (and in) a predictable Holiday Inn or a risky hostel. Now you can virtually bounce on the bed—and read about other guests’ experiences—in 600,000 crash pads and palaces across 34,000 cities.

That number will keep surging. And though Airbnb started as a humble idea (want to sleep on my air mattress for a few bucks?), the site now offers castles, boats, and more for your vacation or business lodging. Many travelers, including those in this household, take advantage routinely.

This picture, for example, shows the sunny view from our spacious, clean, and delightful two-bedroom flat overlooking a hip and bustling square in the heart of Copenhagen. Cost? $155 per night.

That’s cheap! And cheap! is not a word one gets to use often when touring Scandinavia. Cheap! would also not describe the value of Airbnb since private investors started throwing cash at this…Big Idea. Airbnb is now ‘valued’ at $10 billion. (!)

High fives to the vagabonds, right? Thanks to us, the Sharing Economy is alive and thriving; we can avoid overpriced, humdrum hotels; and three young, digital entrepreneurs are now billionaires.

  • Now for the bad news

Sadly, the Airbnb valuation may suggest that we’re entering another economic bubble. Don’t believe me? Then believe NYT’s business editor, Jeff Sommer, who wrote the article, “In Some Ways, it’s Looking Like 1999 in the Stock Market” this week, citing “stratospheric prices” for Airbnb, Facebook ($150 billion), and King Digital Entertainment (Candy Crush Saga, $7 billion).

As a oft-spanked investor for 30 years, I know how these things usually (always?) end, and it can hurt. Us, I mean. The Airbnb founders and the hedge-hogs feeding them funds usually come out just fine. But…

Meantime, if you’ve been riding the wave of stocks more than doubling since the Great Recession low in March, 2009, now might be an okay time to consider taking some money off the table to splurge on a trip. You now know where to find 600,000 possibilities!

During that Recession, I often said, “We just need a new bubble.” After all, some say we’ve had about five once-in-a-lifetime bubble-bursting events in a matter of a few decades. But NYT’s Mr. Sommer does say, “Maybe not the entire stock market” is in a bubble. Just Airbnb and some other companies in the internet space.

Still, we know how the house of cards can tumble down. And this raging bull market hasn’t even had a routine 10% correction since taking off. It’s overdue. Are you?

So go for it: Spend some profits; buy some free time. In your memory bank, your experiences may be worth even more than Airbnb.

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