Friday, September 08, 2006

Foolish Wisdom

Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised at how little you have.
--Ernest Haskins

The Motley Fool is a great place for an introductory exposure to the world of financial fluency and investing. I don’t always agree with everything they say, but at the very least, the Fools do provide a great starting place, and sufficient brain food for thought.

I ran across a Foolish piece this week that described a stark look at personal finance for We the People. Much like the story of The King Who Had No Clothes, we sometimes have to drop the pretense, take off the rose-colored glasses, and look honestly and objectively at our financial physique.

When you peel away the Armani, drop the Prada, and observe the less than flattering curves we all try conceal, you get a glimpse—not of your neighbor in his or her underwear—but what the average American's undressed finances look like:

  • Three-fourths of workers age 55 to 64 have less than $56,000 saved for retirement.
    20% of credit cards are maxed out.
  • 42% of workers cash out their 401(k)s rather than transfer (or "roll over") the assets to an IRA or a new employer's retirement plan.
  • One-third of "millennials" (those born after 1979) do not contribute a single dollar to their work-sponsored retirement savings plan.
  • Last year, the average household paid $1,000 in interest on the money it borrowed.
  • One out of every 73 U.S. households files for bankruptcy.

The Foolish advice is rich in wisdom: Save early, save smartly, and spend less.

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