Employer-sponsored health insurance: going the way of the perm?

 

Anybody spending any time getting upset about the implications of the Hobby Lobby ruling is getting it all wrong.  Employer-sponsored health insurance probably won’t be around much longer.

This isn’t even one of my zany theories.  I just started Googling “employer sponsored health insurance” to learn more about it, and many of the results for that benign search term were about how Obamacare spells the end of employer-sponsored health insurance.  The articles imply that crushing employer insurance was not one of the goals of the ACA, but the reality is that all the new rules place an untenable financial burden on employers.

It makes sense.  Employer-sponsored insurance was already kludgy as hell prior to the Hobby Lobby determination.  And the Hobby Lobby case just underscores how antiquated and ill-fitting this system is now.

Employer insurance started largely during WWII as a fringe benefit to counteract wage freezes, buoyed by a tax advantage for employers enacted around that time.  It peaked in the 60s and 70s, an expansionary time in US history for both socialized services and medical patronage.  A hundred years ago, people went several years without seeing a doctor; now health services and products are a large part of our lives.

The scale has tipped, and at this point insurance plans are expected to subsidize a slew of what might arguably be only somewhat medical items and services, such as face lifts, mood elevators, and Viagra.  Which I understand is expensive for the insurer (not to mention the insured).  I read in one of these articles that employer insurance coverage and participation both decreased through the ’90s and ’00s – marking the beginning of a period of natural contraction in this “semi-socialized” type of insurance.

So this is just my observation, but it seems like just prior to ACA, our relationship to health insurance was like that classic rock song “Stuck in the Middle with You” (or more specifically, the Hanes commercial with all the thongs on the laundry line set to this song).  A giant proverbial wedgie.  We all want health insurance, and everyone seems to know that private insurance is way too expensive.  So you need your job to provide cheap group insurance.  But as long as there is some coverage, it probably does not impact your decision on where to work.  And then inevitably you are dissatisfied with it.

At the same time, it sounds like employers have been coming to resent insurance for the non-value-added cost that it is.  They could never get rid of it altogether, but they could chip away at it and prospective employees wouldn’t know until it’s too late.  The insurance at one of my jobs did not even cover annual Well Woman exam.  What’s up with that?  But I continued to work there and just paid for these services.  Then at my current job the insurance seems a little too expensive.  But I just pay for it.  In neither of these cases was I going to leave my job over it.

So there has been a tension, at least in the plans I have seen.  Your company usually only offers 2-3 plans tops, so you really don’t have much of a choice. And your company had latitude to change up the whole insurance arrangement without any employee buy-in, as illustrated so brilliantly in the Dwight clip above.  The Office really nailed it on that one.

Enter ACA.  Obamacare was ostensibly supposed to make everything better and more comprehensive, but what it did is push a teetering system to the brink.  Employers did not like paying for the optional insurance plans before, and now they are legally required to provide bigger plans than they ever had.  I don’t think corporations will have much of a chance to engage in ethical medical conflicts.  The added costs of the ACA laws will compel employers to push the costs onto the employees through the back end, or consider taking the fee instead of continuing to cover employees.

I would be more worried about what happens next.  It would be nice to think that we might all enter the private market, and a competitive environment would develop in an attempt to earn all of our business.  But the insurance industry is far too regulated to welcome competitors and a free market.  And the same Federal Government that expanded its powers enough to enact a national health tax could also take over the administration of the system that redistributes the tax money.  Especially now that the group insurance environment is sufficiently distasteful that employers might voluntarily exit the market.

DC wants to help with your loans: What are you gonna do about it?

Last week was a big week for student loans, but I was too busy to hear much about it.  Barack Obama was doing something; Elizabeth Warren was doing something.  Being a Massachusetts resident, I am familiar with Elizabeth Warren’s student loan cause.  But I was surprised this topic came up twice.

Say what you will, I think this Wall Street Journal summary was amusing:

Student debt in the U.S. now tops $1.2 trillion, spread among 37 million borrowers, 5.4 million of whom have already defaulted. Washington took notice this week, rolling out the usual non-solutions: On Monday, President Obama expanded a federal program that allows students to repay debt based on what they earn, eventually forgiving the balance. Taxpayers pay the rest. On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s idea to tax millionaires to pay for broad student-loan refinancing stalled in the Senate.

Well here is my unsolicited opinion about those plans:

Pay As You Earn

This is the program that Obama is expanding to include older borrowers who took out loans prior to 2007, which he estimates to be about 5 million potential applicants.  Problem is that only 1.6 million are enrolled now, due to poor word of mouth and loan servicer resistance.  So 5 million more might be a little optimistic.

Here’s my more fundamental problem with this plan: you reduce your payments to 10% of your discretionary income (however they figure that out), and you go along like that for 20 years until your remaining balance is forgiven.  20 years.  Since interest is piling up on the back end, it would probably never make sense to try to pay off the debt even if you are older and earning more.  You’d just be paying off mountains of interest you allowed to accrue.  So this plan turns your schooling costs into an additional 10% income tax that follows you around for the better portion of your working years.  And as depressing as that sounds, the inevitable balance of interest that is due to the Federal Government becomes the tax payers’ problem.

So let’s see: the Federal Government provides the student loans with some sort of tax-related income, and came up with a plan to allow borrowers to not pay the full amount back.  The tax payers make up the difference – but wait, didn’t the original seed money come from the tax payers?  This doesn’t seem like a good investment…

Warren Plan: Take from the “rich” to give to the poor

I give Elizabeth Warren an A+ for compassion for students, but she has this bizarre fixation on punishing the rich.  For me it is just a turn-off.  Moreover: her oversimplified logic about wealth re-distribution begs for critique.  Of course, you could do many amazing humanitarian things with the Kardashians’ fortune.  But their fortune is not up to us, is it?  Nor should it be.  This is America, where our wealth is supposed to be protected… no matter how brazenly acquired or spent.

Her plan is to lower student loan interest rates with money she found from a handy loophole that she can close in the tax law for rich tax payers.  (In engineering, looking to other peoples’ areas for cost-cutting so that you can fund something of your own is called not cool.)  What I am saying is that she probably doesn’t have the cooperation of the tax law stakeholders.  And I find it hard to believe that her team contains genius loophole-discoverers having revelations heretofore unseen on Capitol Hill.  Even if they are, getting things done in the real world doesn’t usually involve charmless headlines about uncovering other people’s errors.

But here’s my real problem with this plan: even if peoples’ loan interest rates reduced, I do not honestly believe that most people would take the opportunity to pay down faster.  No matter what interest rate you are at, you almost always have the opportunity to pay down faster than the minimum.  But most people don’t take it.

And by the way, “millionaires” aren’t the Scrooge McDucks anymore.  That would be billionaires.  A million currently is considered a modest retirement egg for a 60 year old after 35 hard years of work.  Wait a minute, Elizabeth Warren wants to take money away from retired school teachers?!

So I had to chuckle at the WSJ’s characterization of these plans as “non-solutions” because I too am left with the question: what’re you gonna do about it?  The only real cure for loans (once you have them) is to buckle down and pay them off.  I am against digging into any class of tax payer more to “help” student loan borrowers.  College is a vacation; working life is hard, and should not be bitten any more.

Unmitigated junk.

For maybe the first time ever, last week I found myself on an airplane without any sort of reading material.  No book, no magazine.  I don’t own a tablet.  And my work computer certainly did not have anything good to read – anything saved to my local hard drive anyway.  Poor planning.

So after I was done sleeping with my mouth open in front of total strangers, I moved onto the airplane magazines.  The informational one had interesting articles about Minnesota… Then it was down to the smaller magazine selling crap.  It’s really crap!  A shawl you can wear around your torso to improve your posture.  A floating toy you can put in your pool to make it look like a guy is driving a gondola around in there.  A mesh platform with a shade cover for dogs to sit on outside.  How ridiculous!  You know that any dog lucky enough to get outdoors to a nice yard just wants to rub her neck in the nearest poop or plain old lay around in the full sun.  Not sit on the dog equivalent of a trampoline under an umbrella.  Dogs can get all their requisite kicks for free.

Even if you came to the conclusion that you have bad posture – which is not really a problem – you could solve this non-problem by thinking to yourself “I shall sit straighter from now on!”  And before you know it, either your non-problem is solved, or you feel like you solved it and are pretty pleased with yourself.  Which in reality is about the same outcome.

Same with the pool gondola guy.  I just don’t see how someone gets to the point of thinking “gee, my pool is so empty when I’m not in it splashing around and enjoying myself!”  Personally, I would like to look out the window and see a sparkling, crystal clear pool free of cartoonish interruptions.  But maybe this is a white-person-with-pool problem.  I wouldn’t understand.

The magazine went on for at least 50 pages with this nonsense.  It made me wonder what the implied characteristic of the total population of the flying public is.  That because we are sitting in Economy seats on a flight from Boston to Detroit, we have too much money to know what to do with?  Or has the stale, fart-laden air in planes been proven in studies to reduce cognitive abilities and decision-making faculties?  Your phone is in airplane mode on the plane anyway, so you can’t make any immediate poor decisions.

This was like a strange glimpse into another world for me.  I have always avoided push-marketing of unnecessary stuff.  I don’t watch QVC ever (don’t even have cable anymore), and don’t have catalogs of any kind of goods that come to my house.  I like to think that all my stuff is purposeful and essential.  So the overload of pointless junk was overwhelming.  Next time (and all following times) I will bring a book.

Secret financial lives Part I

Freud, in a relatively romantic mood, wrote about how a person cannot genuinely love many things or people.  It is too diluted and therefore false.  True love is whole.

Well I always interpreted his sentiment to mean love of vocation or hobbies, in addition to people.  As well, I studied Chinese philosophy which dictates that water is powerful because it always finds the cracks, and then expands in winter when everything is the most harsh and difficult.  And so I have developed a theory that you can tell what people really love vocationally, and who they want to be, by following the trail of blood and sweat.  Because the love of the soul is powerful like water, and will always seek the destination dictated by the soul, empowered by the mind and the muscles of the body.

Don’t you ever notice that people occasionally do crazy things?  And wonder what drives people to do what they do?

Showing up at work day to day, I observe people and have come to some conclusions.  The conclusions focus on the outliers; most people just show up at work and do their thing, and you can’t draw any conclusions about that without more information.

But some people exhibit outlying financial behavior that begs for a Freudian analysis.

There are people at my company who own decently pumping real estate businesses on the side.  You can tell because you can hear them on the phone.  I know three people like this, and wonder why they are still working at my company.  I assume they are setting up to retire early, otherwise why would anyone go to so much trouble handling a whole side business?  Carrying on that way forever would be a diluted investment of energy and therefore unsustainable according to my pal Freud.  These folks’ energy and longing is with retirement I think.

Then there are the ladder climbers.  They put a lot of energy (and money) into the day job.  Fancy clothes; expensive take-out lunch and dinner in anticipation of long work hours.  And they network.  After the extra-long day, they go to events they wouldn’t even go to otherwise, just to meet people they wouldn’t ordinarily hang out with, in the hopes that it will advance the career.  So I assume from all of this that these types of people feel great affection for “the career” and want to engage in a long-term relationship with it.  I think that is what Freud would say.  And it is fine to love having a career and to want to invest it in long-term and dwell in its protective routine forever.  I don’t share the sentiment, but am at least glad that I have characterized it to my satisfaction.

Sometimes you meet people who have exceptional hobbies which require ALL the energy and ALL the money.  Like traveling all over the world to participate in elite races and sporting events.  I am not sure how these people have the energy to do all that and hold down a job.  But I am pretty sure they find a way to work it out because the cost of the hobby will ensure that they will have to work forever.  I think Freud would say that elite athletes like this truly only love the sport, and the job is just a means to an end, to be minimized and stablized to equilibrium.  And the couple of people I know like this seem to engage in this work philosophy.

Then there are the blenders, who are harder to figure out.

Sometimes you meet people at work for whom no end is in sight.  They appear to be in their 50s; they dress plainly and bring their lunch.  And I wonder why these people are still working.  They seem to have simple lifestyles that would have allowed them to retire already.  But who knows?

And then there are people like that, but younger.  Living plainly, saving their money (or at least unwittingly letting it accumulate).  I wonder what’s going to come of these people – what they are going for.

Neither the young nor the old in this category seem to really love their jobs.  But they must love something, or at least love something more than the grind.  But you can never tell.

I think I blend in with the masses of people who just come in, kick tushie for the 9-hr work day, and then scramble home.  I’m not struttin’.  I’m not trying to make a name for myself, though I am flattered that people seem to appreciate my cursory tushie-kicking attempts.  I’m not quite as flashy as the side job people, so I hope it is not evident that my heart follows my future money rather than the seed money.

Coming up is a tale of another secret financial life…

When vacation is ok.

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Highland Light, Truro, MA

For those of us suffering from extreme frugality, it can be difficult to determine when and how to pull the trigger on anything whimsical.  You’ve streamlined everything in your daily life down to the nub; going off and spending money would destroy what you cultivated in your bank account.

So I have been working on a rubric for when vacation is ok.  Sometimes it’s good to be able to do a sanity check.  Do any of these guidelines seem too lenient?  I challenge you to convince me!

  1. When you are out of debt. I really cannot see going on any sort of pleasure-motivated holiday while in debt.  (In the past couple months my liquid net worth – not counting 401K etc. – shifted positive, so that if you added up my savings and small amount of remaining student loan debt, it would be green.  More on that soon.)
  2. To treat your family or do good in another way.  I just took my mom and sister for a weekend trip to Cape Cod, and heard about a friend who will be taking a trip to volunteer.  I know some people have hardcore frugality principles but these types of trips sound guilt-free to me on an ethical level.  If you have everything else in order and want to spend some money whimsically, I cannot think of a better way than this.
  3. If vacation takes up X% of your income and allows you to achieve your Y% savings goal.  If your honest saving goal is 50% of your income per year, and you are meeting that goal and have room in your remaining funds to spend 5% that would otherwise go back to savings, I think you could spend a small fraction like this (if it is acceptable to you) and not worry about it.  If your take-home pay is $3K/month or $36K/year, and you are able to save $18K reliably with another $1800 to spare, I would not sweat spending up to this much on vacation.  In this scenario you are already saving 50% of your income!  To me this is like a triathlete debating whether to go for the ice cream cone.  Granted, if your saving goal is like 85% of your take-home pay, then either you probably don’t get to go on vacation or you need to re-assess your goals.
  4. When your vacation plan is blissfully frugal.  I dream about bike-and-camp vacations, whose only cost is the airfare and potential bike rental.  A cheap vacation inherently meets #3, which makes it even more appealing.
  5. To advance an interest or hobby.  I admire people for whom a vacation is an extension of an existing interest.  (Bike vacations also fall under this category.)  Traveling to further your scuba or language skills, follow a favorite band, learn more about your lineage, etc., seem very cool and more significant than a trip for the hell of it.  When you are justifying spending money, that is.

When vacation isn’t so hot:

  1. When vacation will tempt you to make bad decisions.  The opposite of a breezy bike vacation, a vacation to, say, Las Vegas will likely result in poor choices.  “Luxury” destinations make you want to go big and avoid the fray, and that is just the beginning.  You will be compelled to buy tickets to shows you may not like, gamble your money away to a statistically dominant House, and do all this in silly clothes you impulse-bought to look more like a hooker.  I am not interested in Vegas vacas at all.
  2. When you are aiming for a short-term money goal.  Unlike #3 above, a short-term goal should take precedence or else it will never get done.  I think short-term is something you expect or need to accomplish within a year and is reasonably one-off in nature.  Saving for a new car, a certification for a 2nd job, or house down payment are all things that should not be hindered by frivolous spending.  Or they just won’t get done and undesirable results will follow!  Choice is up to you.

Maybe these are common sense.  But it is very hard to quantify and justify when it is time to spend purely on yourself if you like to save.  And even if you have decided on the amount and purpose, it is easy to second-guess based on the frivolity.  So I like to keep things measured and meaningful to ensure confidence in the plan.

Does it ever make sense to buy stones?

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Stones: the hallmark of the fancy backyard.

This tiny circle of stones is an experiment: I am obsessed with stones and think they are the key to ultimate backyard pimpage; Mr. Goodies thinks it is ridiculous to buy stones because you can just pick them out of the ground.  Buuuut we already picked all the readily available stones out of the ground to make vaguely Middle Earth-esque backyard fashions, such as in the garden here:

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The medieval stone look is fine, but I have my sights set on a fancy two-tiered garden wall system.  And that requires professional stones.  Take the lumpy soil erosion zone behind the retaining wall (currently lined with ground stones):

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Some day I wish to make this mop of weeds into a sweet tiered garden with an ivy backdrop.

I am convinced that stones have great ROI.  Any real money we put into this house needs to translate to added resale value.  And the sex appeal of the tiered garden cannot be denied.  How ace would it be to turn our dust bowl into something like this?

Let’s run some numbers then.  The tiny plum tree circle took 12 stones, so I would estimate that the wall would be at least 100 stones long.  At two levels of 3 rows, it would come to 600 stones.  The plum tree stones were $1.28 each, so the wall project would run us roughly $800.  Oy.  And you know I’m probably under-estimating.

The painful part is that it would be for a bunch of stones…

So what do you think… slum-dunk DIY idea?  Or wasteful pile of stones?

Image from http://www.idealhome.com

Internet Provider “Orbitz”: Million-dollar idea or what?

Oh I forget, we’re in the 21st century now.. we should be shooting for billion-dollar ideas :)

OK so… our Verizon Fios 2-year contract is up this month.  Game time baby.  We got rid of the cable and DVR, so we’re down to this pesky $80/month internet service.  Verizon is telling me this will go up to $95/month if I don’t sign another contract.

I want another contract like I want to go lease a car… what do they think I am, crazy?

Hell no, I suffered these fools long enough and now I have a chance to get free.  But there are two major problems:

  1. I am pretty ignorant about other internet service providers (if any) that may or may not serve my area
  2. I assume that all service providers are terrible via the following dichotomy: cheap but with crummy service with worse technical support, or overpriced and still occasional crumminess (these have been my two types of experiences)

It would be amazing to see an Orbitz-style grid of which providers serve my area, with the cheapest advertised plans they offer, and whether they lock you into a contract.  What I have ahead of me is an old-school research effort looking up services, checking prices, determining service coverage, and trying to find reviews.  How 2004.

Do you have any advice on cheap internet providers?  I actually considered just adding the service to my cell phone to make it a wireless beacon, but that would require me (or let’s face it, just my phone) to be home all the time.  But I believe even that service is $50-60/month.

I’ve tried to figure out the nature of my beef with the telecommunications industry, and what would make me feel like the problem is “solved.”  I think $80-95/month is too much to pay for internet.  It just seems like a lot of money.  I guess if you can get a wireless beacon on a phone for $50/month, that’s how much I would settle for for home wireless.  So that is where the logical bar is set.

I realize that internet is crucial – even all the frugal blogs I read would cancel everything out of life to save money, but would still keep internet.  So there is inherent value and demand.  But it is so prolific that it seems like competition should have been able to settle in and turn it into a commodity by now.  Or what Republic Wireless has done for cell phones, someone should have been able to do for wireless by now.  THAT is the billion-dollar idea.  Too bad the Republic people are probably already on it.

Either way, I still think the Internet Provider Orbitz is another good business idea :)

Stay tuned for an Internet update, a.k.a How Ms. Goodies Kicked Verizon’s Tushie…

“Lose my mind” Fund: the new emergency fund

I haven’t been writing much lately.  I threw my back out; one of my chickens died (rest her little soul).  I’ve just been in a funk.

Also, I have had a really hard time at work. Like… really hard.  The kind of couple of weeks that result in the return of my familiar work fantasy of being an alpaca farmer. Better than this, right?

Hotel Hell

Unlike Dwight, I already get paid plenty of money to do what I do.  So that does not drive me at all.  Sometimes all I want is a job with less scrutiny and more personal satisfaction.  I don’t need others to tell me I’m great and I’m doing a good job.  I can assess the value and virtue of my own work.  What I need is fewer people constantly straining to find “defects” in my work, and levying deadlines that are unrealistic in the context of my overall workload.  And I do want to do things that I think are inherently “good” or “worthwhile.”

I actually started thinking very seriously about my emergency fund, which now could support my current lifestyle for almost 9 months (longer with unemployment).  If I were to lose my mind or my job, or decided to pursue alpaca farming or anything else totally absurd, I could do so for probably up to a year with no concerns at all.  Except for the gradually mounting risk of inadequate cash flow.  “Pretty cool!”  I decided.
I never took emergency funds very seriously because I never gave myself mental permission to use an EF for its intended purpose.  “I’ll NEVER lose my job!” I thought, because “I’ll make it my total life goal to protect my job.”  And if something ever did happen, I figured, I would hustle to get another engineering job within the month.  So how can you have motivation to raise an EF when you are putting so much pressure on yourself to minimize the risk?The fact is that some things are outside your control.

There may come a time that I am no longer working in engineering, and no longer wish to work in engineering.  That would not be the end of the world, and I already have the means to support myself for up to a year figuring things out in that case.  I survived for several years with no savings margin, and lots of debt.  This would be similar if not better.It’s just another good thing to keep in mind.  I still want to hang in there until I have enough savings invested to generate a livable passive income.  Then I could go do whatever work I really want without concern about saving for retirement.

What is your work fantasy?  And realistically what kind of work would you do if money were not an issue?

Money Sense: Childhood vs. Adult

The Wall Street Journal just had a short article about how much kids should pay for college.  The rule of thumb was not more than the average salary you will make over your first ten years out of college.

I had to laugh because I don’t think kids have a clue what they’ll make the first year out of college, let alone the first ten. Maybe it starts to come into view while you’re in college, but I cannot imagine high school students knowing anything about this, or caring.

A friend of mine didn’t want to go to Prom in high school because he was convinced that “tuxedos cost like a million dollars.”  And I remember assuring him that “dude, you just rent the tuxedo.  So it’s only like a thousand dollars.  It’ll be fine.”  Well he never went to Prom, and I never discovered the cost of renting a tuxedo (I claim the not-pertinent-to-me defense).

But also to this day, I remain pretty clueless about how much really random things cost.  I am putting together a 5K fundraiser, and called an insurance company for a quote for single day even liability insurance.  According to the associate, a one-day non-competitive sporting event including “additional insured” for the State Park venue comes to… drum roll………. $150.

I was like “that’s IT?!”  And I almost bought it on the spot, but decided I should check out 1 or 2 other companies.  $150 is really cheap compared to my expectation.  Ironically, I had assumed that the insurance would cost about $1000 (guess that is my go-to WAG value for life).

But obviously $150 is not cheap, especially when it is an up-front cost to me for a charity event, which I must later go and get underwritten by a sponsor.  So it really is important to shop around.

I have always found the question of “whether something costs too much to ME” to be challenging.  When you go to rent your first apartment, or buy your first car, it always comes down to “can I manage $600 for rent, or $200 for a car payment?”  And I have never known how to answer that.  You just know when you get into it.  The only useful advice I have ever heard on this topic is that your housing costs should be no more than 1/3 your take-home pay.  I heard that on the news when I was 10 and have always sought to live well below that.  Any additional living costs I have compared to that value.

But when it comes to $150 for a fundraiser cost?  I don’t know.  I can afford $150 for charity, and plan to get the cost underwritten.  But in the event that I cannot, I would definitely prefer the lowest cost possible.  Hey, at least I’m already doing better than $1000 :)

Xbox 1 or Playstation4?

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Spoiler alert!  On this week’s Big Bang Theory, Sheldon can’t decide between the Xbox 1 or the PS4.  Isn’t that so typically Sheldon?

I have nothing against video games.  I bought an Xbox in 2009, mostly out of curiosity about video games and as a gift to myself after getting my grown-up job.  Although now it is more of a glorified DVD player.

But even if I were still into video games, I probably would not be compelled to get a new box (or station) just because there is a newer platform.  Mine still works.  And I am sure there will still be a solid 1-5 years while video games for the Xbox are still made.  By then my Xbox might not still work, the Xbox 1 will be vetted (remember Windows Vista?), and the Xbox games might be phased out altogether in favor of Xbox 1.  Then it would be a legitimate consideration overall.  Enhanced by a few more years of my hundreds of dollars saved and invested.

So why to people feel compelled to get the new thing?  And further to that, to engage in a lengthy deliberation about which to get in the face of a parallel product roll-out?  Come on.. you know people around you are doing it.  It’s not just Sheldon Cooper.

I might have been swayed in the past, but at this point I do not understand hype-based rhythms.  I am happy splurging on something once to satisfy my curiosity, and basically never spending money on it again.  I’ve got a car, a laptop, a bike, and a KitchenAid.  All the gadgets you need in life.  And they all work (knock on wood!!).  I’ve got one beautiful purse and one beautiful watch. I don’t need more.

That last part is important because fashion is just as absurd as technology, or worse.  Fashion tells us we need a new one every season.  Every few months!  Why?  Because turquoise is in.  It’s not that a Heavenly Being invented a new color for the pleasure of all earthly creatures.  Some Earthling just favored a color that already exists – for spring anyway.  The irony is that the cyclical nature of fashion makes trends from previous seasons look like tired fads.  All my clever lady friends know that classic and elegant accessories work all the time, forever.  These are what I prefer.

So back to Sheldon, it occurred to me that there is something about the addictive personality that seems especially prone to hype-based spending.  Sheldon Cooper is addicted to knowing everything about everything.  And specific to the more limited world of his interests, he is particularly prone to Fear of Missing Out.  Logical and prudent choices about money leave no room for FOMO.  Alternatively, FOMO drives lots of addictive spending.

I guess it is common sense, but making a commitment to a prudent financial life requires letting go of hype.  But my experience is that this disciplined and detached outlook also makes the occasional splurges that much more carefree and hilarious.  Kind of the opposite of the picture above.

Image from http://www.gamespot.com