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Before we look at some additional financial advice from teachers and students, I want to visit and revisit a few subjects.
It should come as no surprise that, as New York opens up and more people are staying home less, demand is increasing, and gasoline prices are increasing. As I write this column, a gallon of regular gas at BJ’s Henrietta is now up to $1.91.
On a different subject, there has been so much talk during this pandemic about how creative some people have been, including students coming up with ideas about what to do this summer, some to make money. So here is an idea. As I ride my bike around, I see a lot of people driving to and parking their cars on the streets in nice neighborhoods, and then going for a walk. I also see some people parking and going for a bike ride with their smaller children. So during this pandemic, what if there was a smartphone app that would identify really nice neighborhoods in your area that you can go to and walk in? I found that there is a Walkonomics app, but that just tells you the nicest walking routes to a particular destination.
On an additional creative subject, I don’t know if you have read or seen any of the reports on the McCann’s Meats vending machine. It's a vending machine in the vestibule of the store in the South Wedge that is not filled with drinks or snacks, but with raw and cooked meat, ranging in price from $5 to $80. It’s like the ATM machine in the lobby of your bank that is open 24/7. It was installed because of the pandemic, but think of all of the businesses that could use this concept even after everything returns to normal — assuming that is ever really going to happen.
Revisiting a different subject, “Cash is King,” it appears that there is now a growing concern that there may not be enough coins in circulation, because people are using less cash for fear of virus spread. That is all I needed to hear, so I am trying to use cash again for smaller purchases. When everything is behind us, remember to carry a change purse with you to recycle your coins as you go.
Let’s turn now to some additional financial advice from teachers and students, before we conclude with some survey and poll results. As promised, here are some additional lessons from teacher Mike at Brighton High School. Last time we talked about having sufficient liquid assets for emergencies and also keeping a low debt-to-income ratio.
1. Avoid lifestyle inflation, or what some call lifestyle creep, by always spending less than you make, even when your income increases by things like a raise, a bonus, or a better job. If you lose sight of this, you may end up with the stress of living paycheck to paycheck, even if you make a lot of money. Remember, the last time I checked, 10% of Americans making over $100,000 per year were living paycheck to paycheck. By the way, I always recommend saving a certain healthy percentage of any raise or bonus.
2. Since, on average, Social Security only replaces about 40% of an individual’s working income, it is critical to save and invest for a retirement with dignity. The recommendation is to save and invest 15% of your income for at least 25 years, but, as we have often demonstrated, saving very early has a dramatic positive effect.
3. Always have a realistic budget that you can stick to. Some call it a spending plan in order to make it seem less draconian. This pandemic has reduced many people’s income, including many Americans who would never have expected it. That reduced income for some, and the need to stay at home for many of us, have given all of us the opportunity to really look at our expenses, and to evaluate how much we truly NEED some of those expenses going forward.
4. Maxing out credit cards to maintain a “keep up with the Joneses” lifestyle can cripple you financially. In hard times you may be able to enter into a forbearance agreement with your mortgage holder or the servicer on your student loan debt, both of which are usually at reasonable interest rates, but interest just keeps building up on that unpaid credit card debt at high rates.
It’s all great advice!
Let’s finish up with a few of those survey and poll results from Bankrate and WalletHub.
$ With the income tax filing and payment date extended to July 15, WalletHub has released its 2020 Tax Burden by State report. In order to determine which states tax their residents most aggressively, WalletHub compared the 50 states based upon the three components of state tax burden — property taxes, individual income taxes, and sales and excise taxes, as a share of total personal income. It should come as no surprise that New York ranked first at 12.28%. Even New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois came in at under 10%. So does anyone still think that people are moving out of New York because of the weather?
$ Here is a surprising survey result from Bankrate. 47% of U.S. adults report losing sleep, at least occasionally, about a money issue. The surprise is that it is down from 56% last year.
$ Finally, from WalletHub, only 25% of Americans' summer plans were kept, while 37% were postponed and 38% were cancelled.
Stay safe and healthy, and if you haven’t filed or paid your income taxes yet, do it by July 15.
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.