Terrorism came in at second at 12 percent, followed by struggling overseas economies at 9 percent, a decline in the stock market at 8 percent and an increase in interest rates at 5 percent, according to Bankrate.com
“The election campaign seems to be corroding Americans’ sense of financial security,” wrote Holden Lewis, a senior mortgage analyst and editor at Bankrate.com. “The Bankrate Financial Security Index — based on survey questions about how people feel about their debt, savings, net worth, job security and overall financial situation — plunged to its lowest level in more than 2 years.”
Color of Money question of the week
Do you agree that the outcome of the election is a threat to the U.S. economy and if so, why? Send your comments to email@example.com Given the topic, I’m only sharing comments in which you list your name, city and state. Hopefully this will keep the discussion civil. In the subject line put “The Economy & The Election.”
Live chat cancelled
I’m away in Baltimore at the annual conference for the Financial Planning Association, which is the professional organization for certified financial planning professionals (trying to stay informed for you).
So today’s chat is cancelled. But please join me next week.
How much money should you leave when you die?
A 77-year librarian died and left his entire $4 million estate to his alma mater, which is also where he worked.
Robert Morin worked nearly 50 years at the University of New Hampshire library and was known as a penny pincher. As I wrote in last week’s newsletter, Morin’s generosity is to be commended. But is there such a thing as being too frugal, so much so that you don’t live well during your lifetime?
Put another way, for last week’s Color of Money question I asked: How much money should you leave when you die?
“I don’t plan to leave a large amount of money to anyone,” wrote D.G.F. of Plano, Tex. “My husband and I have no children to leave money to, so my 12 nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews will get what’s left. I suppose I am saving to pay for senior apartment or nursing home, should we need one, God forbid. And if we are lucky enough to not need it, then my nieces and nephews will be lucky to get it.”
“Short answer: as little as possible,” wrote Waneta Achaj of Alexandria, Va. “I don’t have children or a spouse, and the nieces and nephews tend to be busy with their own lives. I do have a small trust fund for my pets. Essentially, I’m buying them a spot in a rescue group, since no family or friends will take them. A couple of charities get a percentage too. Other than that, my goal is to spend my old age spending money. When she died at 80, my mother was still ‘saving for her old age.’ It was nice that we didn’t have to worry about paying medical expenses or the nursing home, and of course we appreciated our inheritance, but it would have been better if mother had spent a little to make things easier on herself.”
Lane Kramer of Dallas wrote: I think God provides for us through our jobs, businesses and investments so that we can maintain a reasonable standard of living. That includes paying for necessities like food and shelter, clothing, utilities, etc. He also wants us to be generous givers and support our churches, ministries and NGO’s that do great good in the world today. It truly is better to give than to receive. If the subject of the article never gave any money away during his life, he robbed himself of great joy.”
Kramer went on to say, “I also think that God provides for us to enjoy some nice things in life. My wife took a 10-day vacation in Oregon this summer and had a great time! We had great fellowship, enjoyed some wonderful seafood and saw God’s creation in it finest form. We came back to work refreshed after having escaped the heat of Texas. So work hard, earn as much as you can, give as much as you can and enjoy some of the finer things that God has put on the earth for our enjoyment! The word balance comes to mind in thinking about how to be a good steward.”
Nikhila Pai of Berkeley, Calif., wrote: “When I think about inheritance I think about leaving behind property to my children, but the cash will likely be gone supporting aging parents, paying for college and enjoying retirement, as well as the occasional big cash gift to help with large life expenses for the kids, as our families did for us. My alma matter and various charities get my money now – probably not so much after I die.”
“At some point everyone starts to think about the end,” wrote Sid Kaskey of Miami. “At that point it is not unreasonable to start to focus on some of life’s pleasures and spending money should focus on personal pleasures. With the need to maintain enough to continue on until the end in mind the focus of one’s savings should be with enjoying a little of life as a goal. Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge. How much money should left? Whatever is left.”
Laura K. McAfee of Catonsville, Md. wrote: Respectfully, I think you’re asking the wrong question – there’s no should.’ From what I have seen, people naturally do what they think is going to make them happy. For me, that means balancing the savings with some treats. For others, that means all the shopping and vacations and life experiences, and none of the savings. So why is it so surprising that some other folks would go all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum and take more joy from putting $50 in the bank than they would spending that money at a mall or restaurant? Why do we assume the first two are normal, while the third must be living a life of miserable deprivation? Yes, when you come from nothing, it is hard to recognize when it’s ok to loosen up the purse strings. But when I read about Mr. Morin, I didn’t assume he was afraid, or unhappy. I thought, wow, he must have taken great pride and comfort in knowing his life’s savings would continue his life’s work long after he’s gone.”
McAfee continued: “My mom is a natural-born saver for whom shopping and ‘stuff’ just never had much appeal. She’s loosened up some, but she truly takes more joy in knowing that her grandkids’ education will be covered than she would from buying a fancy new car. Not that I’m complaining.”
Sue B. Mullins of Loveland, Colo. wrote: I remember saying to my mom, ‘Please. Spend your money. Have a good time, Mom. You deserve it!’ Now my kids are saying to me, ‘Spend your money, Mom. Have a good time.’ I’ve decided, ‘What the hell.’ I’m 80. Most of my kids are financially secure. I’ve provided relief for my grandkids’ college debt. So I’m sailing off to Cuba. Just me, no ‘friend’ nor ‘companion.’ Family and friends are aghast. Cuba? Why? Because I can.”
Color of Money Columns This Week
Financial news you can use
Retirement columnist Rodney Brooks Monday newsletter this week: 7 of 10 Americans plan to work in retirement
Brooks writes: “When it comes to retirement, a whopping 75 percent of Americans say they plan to work ‘as long as possible’ in retirement, according to a new report from Bankrate.com.”
Many people plan to work because they need the money and want to work.
But, he writes “A reality check for most people planning to work through retirement: Most surveys show that even though a majority of Americans plan to keep working, most find they cannot because of health issues, layoffs or because they have to care for spouses or parents.”
Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to washingtonpost.com/business.