Tag Archives: Money

You and Your Credit Card: A Love Affair Gone Bad?

Money can’t buy you class.

Can’t buy me love.

Don’t need no credit card to ride this train.

I bought a dress last week. An expensive dress. I paid in cash.

Yes, they thought I was nuts, too.

But here’s what I’ve learned: Counting out my stack of $20’s – the stack that required multiple trips to the ATM – makes it really clear just how much that dress costs. Counting out my wad of cash makes it really clear my money is leaving my hands (and bank account) for good. Counting out my hard-earned cash makes it really clear I’m trading my time and work for a thing (even if I’m secretly hoping that thing is really some terrific experiences).


Counting out that wad of cash ensures that I think before I spend (far better than I don’t think, therefore I spend). Counting out that wad of cash ensures that, come the end of the month, I don’t suffer an anxiety attack when the mail comes. Counting out that wad of cash ensures that, though it’s a fortune, I pay for my dress what my dress cost, and not a penny more. No interest. No interest. No interest.

No credit card.

Sometimes – often times – no dress. But, then, no credit card debt. And maybe just a few more dollars for when I really need it…

One not-so-consuming consumer’s small contribution (here I join Roger Lowenstein and everyone else paying down their mortgage – see “The Long Payback” in today’s New York Times Magazine section*) to the current deleveraging in the American private sector… Learning from The Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means

Maybe it’s not so great for growing a consumption-based economy, but it sure feels virtuous…

C’mon in. The water’s fine, when you’re not in over your head…


Copyright © 2010 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.


The Time Value of Money?

How about the money value of time?

Damon Darlin, in Sunday’s The New York Times Business section, writing about the time we spend trolling the Web to save a few of our hard-earned dollars: “It’s Free Only if Your Time is Worthless.”

Who’s working for whom? Is the Web working for us, or are we working for it?

Any behavioral economists out there want to answer this question: How to value our “free” time?

Time is money…
and money, in these times…

What’s more valuable – and when?
How do we balance our time and our money?

Copyright © 2010 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Are We There Yet?

Is this it? The end? Of the bad times? Of the recession and all it’s many manifestations? Or did the recession end quite some time ago? Or are we simply poised, ever so fragile, between more severe peaks – make that troughs – to come?


I don’t know about you, but I’m confused. And also just a bit (well, maybe more than a bit) irritated. If economic indicators and official numbers are so good, if consumer spending is increasing and unemployment is slowing (and those are good things, right?), why do I see such widespread economic worry, depression about the depression, and a sense that each new “surprise” on the financial front is not really a surprise at all? Why do I know so many families struggling with how much they can afford? With how to plan for the future while living in the present responsibly? With how to teach their kids to be prudent without worrying them?

Why am I so bothered by the exhortations to both spend in order to save the economy and save in order to be responsible citizens? Is Greece ok now, or just ok for now? How much was indeed known by whom – and when – on Wall Street? Business as usual or something sinister and illegal? Something barely legal that shouldn’t have been? And what’s the difference between shorting as a responsible way to hedge bets and make profits – the all-American way – and just plain old bad greed?

What’s the difference between a good story and the real story? I’d sure like to think I’m getting closer to, rather than farther from, the answers…

Copyright © 2010 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

Banking: The Savings Bank

auburnsavingsbankgeorge-wackerman1 Goldman.
B of A .
401K’s, Roth IRA’s, FDIC, TARP, interest rates, bonds, shorting stocks, passbook accounts. Anything in common?

Banking sure has changed, hasn’t it?

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

If Lightning Strikes…Publish?

lightningstrikesFeeling inspired at 3 am when you can’t sleep – and writing until dawn? Coming up with a solution for our times that the world needs to read about? Turning the detritus of recessionary times into a literary work of art?

Want to publish?

Our friends Gregory F.Tague, Ph.D. and Fredericka A. Jacks at Editions Bibliotekos, a new Brooklyn-based publisher, are soliciting original creative contemporary prose for publication in upcoming theme-based collections. In the works: Medical Humanities, War and Peace, Adoption, Faith and Doubt, Immigration, 9/11-2011.

If you inundate them with terrific writing, maybe even something on the psychology of the 2009 Recession.

Full CALL and guidelines: http://sites.google.com/site/ebibliotekos/
Periodic updates: http://ebibliotekos.blogspot.com

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

On Glasses Half-Empty or Half-Full. Part II: Is Optimism Really Better than Pessimism?

glasshalfemptyOn the way to the “How to” portion of the psychology of Learned Optimism, a small but important detour.

Query: Is optimism always the better way to go?

It would seem so. After all, a positive attitude is certainly the great American way: Westward ho! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (bootstraps?)! If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. Land of opportunity, culture of self-improvement. Work hard, fly right. No contest.

Consider this: Recession 2009

Rising unemployment. Declining real income, industrial production, wholesale-retail sales, consumer confidence. In the U.S., in the world.

The Optimist – sees bad events as temporary setbacks and presumes personal power to alter them.
We are on our way! The dollar’s the global reserve currency. Let the stimulus package, health care system overhaul , new lending programs and industry rescues do their work. Declining consumer prices mean we’ll keep inflation in check.
We are solving this! Roll up your sleeves and buy, invest!The worst is over!

The Pessimist – sees bad events as likely to last a long time and presumes no personal power to alter them.
Are we on our way to hyperinflation? stagflation? All this new money meets lack of demand. Higher prices in a weak economy with rising unemployment is a dangerous combination. Countering stagflation can worsen inflation, and vice versa.
We are sunk! Roll up in a ball or sell, short! The worst is coming!

Query: Did irrational optimism play a part in getting us (You and me. We’ll get into the financial institutions and the government another time.) into this overspending, overleveraging, living on credit cards, investing in things we didn’t understand, taking out mortgages we couldn’t afford, not saving enough for the future (along with a whole lot more) mess?

Did we see what we wanted to see (think Bernie Madoff), believe what we wanted to believe (housing prices always go up), spend what we wanted to spend (doesn’t it seem that everything’s “designer” now?), get lazy and not do our due diligence and trust the experts instead – all because we want to believe things always get better? If only…

Maybe, just maybe, we need to see the glass as both half-empty and half-full. Couldn’t hurt, might help.

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

An Upside to Not Being Able to Retire?

key&money401K tanked? Spouse lost a job just when you were hoping to cut back on work? Come to think of yourself as already having had your retirement – it was called “going to college?”

Feeling locked in to working forever?

Well, according to a UK study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, there is potential good news about having to remain in the workforce longer. Postponing your retirement may delay dementia. Experts from King’s College London analyzed data from more than 1,300 people with dementia. They found that for people who delayed retirement, each extra year of work was associated with approximately a six-week delay in the onset of dementia.

Simon Lovestone, one of the paper’s co-authors, suggested that “the intellectual stimulation that older people gain from the workplace may prevent a decline in mental abilities, thus keeping people above the threshold for dementia for longer.”

Cause and effect have not been definitively determined, and we don’t yet know how to prevent or adequately treat Alzheimer’s disease. But Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause, accounting for almost 60 percent, of the dementia that affects 1 in 20 over the age of 65. It’s heartening to think responding to the current economic climate by working longer may have an upside. It may be associated with delaying a disease that scares – and afflicts – so many. It’s a stretch, but we’ll take our optimism wherever we can get it…

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved