Bad Money Advice on Hiatus

I have decided to take a break from Bad Money Advice for a bit.

I currently have four major projects going on in my life, of which BMA is one. Together, the four take up a considerable amount of time, roughly in line with Keyboard a-Michael Maggs what I used to devote to working back when I had a job. The key difference being that I am not getting paid (yet) for any of it.

Giving up some time with the kids is only just forgivable if you are making six figures. If I must be unemployed, I had better be able to enjoy the upside of plentiful leisure time.

And although none of the non-blog projects I have going can properly be called a job, they each have some potential to develop into one. This is not the case for BMA, which, although successful by many measures, is not now, nor will ever be, a meaningful source of income. (A few PF bloggers do make a nice living, but by design BMA will never be that mainstream.)

I am not shutting BMA down. The site will remain up and I expect to get back to it as my other interests wane in importance and/or the time they require.

Bad Money Advice has given me what every middle-aged American man secretly wants, a small but devoted cult-like following. And for this I am grateful. For the few thousand of you that regularly read BMA, thanks for your interest and please watch this space.

[Photo: Michael Maggs]

Frugal Friday – Mother’s Day Edition

It took longer than I thought it would to distill the best tips and frugal philosophy from the past month, so Frugal Friday is appearing late. I am sure you will agree it was worth the wait.

Leading off, there was another high-profile mention of one of the best money saving tips ever seen here, switching to printer fonts that use less ink. Alas,Lula with Alum Roll this one, at WiseBread, failed to bring up my follow-up idea, using shorter words and words that contain less ink-intensive letters.

WiseBread also brought us 12 Surprising Ways to Reuse Aluminum Foil. It is not a bad list, but I am not sure the word surprising can be applied to washing and reusing foil for its intended purpose. It does share the tidbit that “10th wedding anniversaries are traditionally celebrated by exchanging gifts made of aluminum.” I guess there is no romance like frugal romance. But they missed completely a 13th use, as headgear.

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The Living Too Long Problem

I think the folks at WalletPop must be running some kind of obvious headline contest. Yesterday they carried Airlines Rake in Billions from Extra Fees and Majority of Social Network Users Share Too Much. And today we get Study: Longer Life Can Bring Pension Money Woes.

I’m willing to forgive WalletPop some for that last one. They are a bunch of kids who probably have not thought much about retirement. They do not yet realize that one of the biggest challenges in retirement planning, maybe even the single biggest one, is the somewhat counter-intuitive fear of living too long.

If you are retiring on an old-school pension or annuity, which will pay you a certain amount every month as long as you are around to cash the checks, then living a long time is not much of a fiscal danger. Social Security works the same way.

But if you reach that golden moment of retirement with a pile of money that needs to last as long as you do, longevity risk is a tough problem. Interestingly, it has a fairly tidy solution, but nobody likes it.

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The Department of Home Security

There was a (for me) thought provoking article in The New York Times the other day on Weighing the Value of Home Security System.

Our house had an alarm when we moved into it 11 years ago. It was not  particularly useful. With children too young for school, there was somebodyVA_house in the house almost 24/7 so the alarm almost never got turned on. After a while it broke, I never bothered to get it fixed, and eventually I just cancelled the contract. All that is left now are some unobtrusive but ugly motion detectors in the corners of some rooms.

Home alarms are more about psychology than economics. That much is clear from the overwrought TV commercials the alarm companies run. They do not mention the discount you will get on your insurance or the average reduction in property loss. Instead we get unlikely dramas with burglars in ski masks and foiled home invasions.

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