Scratchy toilet paper, lattes and retirement

My husband Larry and I hate scratchy toilet paper so much that when we travel, we pick up some “Charmin Ultra Soft” at a local store.

Larry, who likes to be prepared for any emergency, even keeps a roll of his preferred cushy paper in the trunks of both of our cars.

Larry says…

You just never know when it’ll come in handy”

(There are some questions you learn to stop asking…)

So why am I telling you about our personal hygiene preferences?
[Read more…] “Scratchy toilet paper, lattes and retirement”

Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode, Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised.

As our story opens, we come upon a celebration of all good cheer.  Our revelers, mostly senior citizens, are toasting the news that in 2012, their Social Security benefits will rise for the first time in three years.

And a woeful trio of years it’s been.

Beginning in 2008, many Americans lost as much as 40% of their retirement funds in the stock market rout.  Home values plummeted and have yet to rebound.  Energy costs – particularly gasoline, cut deeper than ever into disposable income.  Rising out-of-pocket medical costs remain unrestrained.  And inflation, although mild, shaved even more spending power from those 65 and older.

So no wonder Aunt Bizarro and her blind-faith minions are throwing a party.

The 2012 benefits increase “underscores the importance of Social Security as the only guaranteed, lifelong and inflation-adjusted source of retirement income for most Americans,” cheers Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president with AARP, the vast propaganda bureau that masquerades as a friend to those 50 and over.

…For millions of American seniors already suffering in this economy and facing years of rising costs, shrinking returns on their savings and no cost-of-living increases, today’s…announcement lets them know there’s some relief around the corner,”

-chimes in Max Richtman, the ebullient president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

[Read more…] “Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised”

The Rise of Aunt Bizarro and the Demise of the American Social Security Net

Sam and his little sister, Columbia, were born in the earliest days of our zealous nation.

History records that the Wilson offspring were raised in Menotomy, Massachusetts – now known as Arlington – to parents originally from Greenock, Scotland.

Sam was always the more visible of the two.  In 1797, the stern-eyed, elbow-nosed gent married a gal from Mason, New Hampshire, and together they had four children who they raised in their Ferry Street home. Aunt Columbia, as the tots called her, was a doting kinswoman.

Sam first served our country during the War of 1812. A meat packer by trade, he provided beef rations – which he shipped in barrels – to the Army.  Branded on the side of each cask were the initials “U.S.” – signifying their ownership by the United States government.

Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode – Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised. Learn what happens next

But the soldiers and workers who knew good ole Sam Wilson took to joshing that the “U.S.” stood for Uncle Sam.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Aunt Columbia also tried her hand laboring as a national emblem, draping herself in the red, white and blue, and bidding to join big brother Sam on the patriotic trail.  In 1798, Philip Phile and Joseph Hopkinson teamed to write the music and lyrics for George Washington’s inaugural march, which came to be titled, “Hail, Columbia.”  Few historians properly credit Aunt Columbia as Phile’s and Hopkinson’s inspiration.

Sam and Columbia made a nice iconic tag-team, rallying the country through World Wars I and II, and adorning untold numbers of government placards and tourist postcards.

[Read more…] “The Rise of Aunt Bizarro and the Demise of the American Social Security Net”

More Than Snakes, Blood and Other Halloween Frights, Financial Phobias Haunt Many Americans

Ghouls, Ghosts and Goblins are so yesterday.

If you want to scare the bejesus out of home dwellers this Halloween, trying dressing up as an IRS auditor or a foreclosure process server.

In fact, an exclusive nationwide online survey conducted this month by my company,  Bank On Yourself, finds that by a margin of almost four-to-one, many Americans would rather die than outlive their money.

The results are neither trick nor treat: They’re a sad commentary on the financial condition and current state of mind of so many of our family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

More than 500 adults took part in our Bank On Yourself Fear Factors Challenge: Personal Finance Edition. Like the popular television contest that inspired us, we presented players with some icky, gross, terrifying or truly embarrassing scenarios. We then quizzed them on what makes their flesh crawl more: Our scares or the frights associated with personal finance failures?

[Read more…] “More Than Snakes, Blood and Other Halloween Frights, Financial Phobias Haunt Many Americans”

How the Masked Forces of Evil Plot to Devour YOUR Money – and the Brave Superheroes Who Combat Them

Dank and fetid, the inner sanctums of SSH4TT (and no, it’s not what you think!) are devoid of natural light and fresh air.

Few are ever allowed to enter these unholy chambers.  Those who do, disfigured and debauched by their own villainy, steer clear of mirrors and other reminders of their foul order.

Vampire

In public, these odious creatures adorn themselves in gay masks and robes.  They are lauded and paraded as paragons of perspicacity.  Millions, yeah, tens of millions of innocents flock to the doorsteps of their opulent and cavernous estates – hoping to be swathed in the aura of their being – all the while stone-blind to the magnitude of their deception.

Vampire

As a corrupt order, members of SSH4TT have a singular mission – and they pursue it mercilessly. Like vampires that require fresh blood to animate their dead carcasses, SSH4TTs lust after money – other people’s money – to fuel their insatiable rapacity.

SSH4TTs conduct their business, as they have for decades, free of a worthy adversary.

That was, until now…

[Read more…] “How the Masked Forces of Evil Plot to Devour YOUR Money – and the Brave Superheroes Who Combat Them”

The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money

Who are the six masked forces of evil who plot to devour your money? We reveal them here!

Stocks: Octohussy

Queen of Wall and Broad. She expulses barrels of ink (both liquid and digital) to project an image of herself as necessary, advisable, even compassionate.  All the while, her eight arms are reaching into every pocket and financial orifice of her prey, extracting their wealth, peace of mind and dreams for retirement.  Octohussy has no backbone or moral compass whatsoever.  She’ll contort, however necessary, to put the squeeze on her victims.Ramsey Orman Vise

Social Security: Aunt Bizarro

The sinister, sick-minded, grey-locked sister of Uncle Sam, and a first cousin of J. Wellington Wimpee (below).  Adorning herself in the American flag, she promises to protect the elderly and the ill – holding their money in her lockbox until they need it.  “I’ll gladly care for you in the future, so kindly hand over your earnings today,” she demands with a stone-like smile.  The lockbox, of course, is nothing but a dark void.

Home Equity:  Skyresh Detritus

High Admiral of SSH4TT.  Luring financial voyagers into his nest – well disguised as a cozy hearth – Skyresh binds them with promises of great wealth and flexibility, all the while chomping away at their financial foundations and opportunities.  Unwary investors check in, but few are lucky enough to check out undigested.

401(k)s:  Bokor

[Read more…] “The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money”