Financial Planning for the Totally Innumerate (Part 1: Savings)
You’re a 21 year old aspiring novelist living on restaurant tips in one of the most expensive cities on earth. Multisyllabic words fly forth from your typing fingertips like shimmering butterflies, but you can’t balance a checkbook to save your life. Holiday meals with your investment banker father and lawyer mother are like an extended sermon from the Book of Isaiah – according to these sober-minded folks, you’re basically doomed – a hopeless romantic who’d be better off teaching high school, which would at least give you health insurance.
Are Mom and Dad Right about You?
They’re right in some respects. Your situation is risky. After paying the rent on the cockroach-infested garret you share with three aspiring musicians and stocking up on Ramen you’ve got maybe $40 a month left over to play with. You’re young, you’re healthy, and your personal needs are few – a stack of good books on the bedside table, time to write, and the occasional beer with friends. Still, if disaster strikes, you’re looking at a humiliating bailout from the First Bank of I-Told-You-So.
Meanwhile, that $40/month is literally piling up in a shoebox, haunting you from the back of your closet. You’re not about to start playing the stock market, but you know there’s got to be a better way to save toward that ominous Future you keep hearing about.
Think of Zvi Bodie as the benevolent, numerate uncle you never had. A professor of management at Boston University and the co-author, with Rachelle Taqqu, of Risk Less and Prosper: Your Guide to Safer Investing, uncle Zvi doesn’t want to kill your dreams. You’re young, he says, now is the time to take the risks and absorb the experiences that may pay off down the road in the form of authorial greatness. But while you’re at it, he’s happy to offer a bit of free financial advice without treating you like a total moron.
Personal Finance Tips for the Innumerate, from Zvi Bodie:
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