Word to the wise: save more

I wish I had the chance to do it all again?but to do it knowing what I know now.

I?m speaking of my life, of course. I hope there are people at the beginning of adult life, say teenage through age 30, who are reading this.

Of course my wit won?t be entirely lost on those 40 and older.

I?ll let you know up front?and I hope you keep on reading anyway, you young persons?that I am 67. You may be more intelligent than me, but I may have had life bat me on the head a few more times to get my attention.

I remember a time in my early 20s, when I had my first newspaper job, that an old family friend tried to sell me on buying a mutual fund for $35 a month. If I had listened to him, I could have retired 10 years ago if I had wanted to.

To look at that in retrospect is a good bat on the head.

Considering it all, the words that come to mind first are those from the rock song, ?My Life,? by Billy Joel. Good advice can come from what at first sounds selfish.

He sings, ?I don?t care what you say, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone.?

And later in the song, ?Sooner or later you sleep in your own space.?

And then later, ?I never said I was a victim of circumstance.?

I enjoy that song even though it isn?t always totally uplifting and moral. I?ll say the same in total for Billy Joel. I might even invite him to sing at my church if I could, or he would.

His words in this song are something to think about during this Christmas season when the only advice propagated in the media is ?buy, buy, buy.?

Even the credit card offers are multiplying in my mailbox, and consequently in my wastebasket.

The offers for new electronic devices are overwhelming. Everyone under 50 seems to have a great need to be plugged in, talking to somebody or something, although 50 certainly is no age limit.

It all costs money. The message to everyone seems to be to spend, spend, spend, even if you don?t have it. There?s credit to be had.

Now, I?m not going to try to convince people not to spend money on family and friends. But, there is a need to slow down, and listen to my own inner wisdom and knowledge instead of the hype.

I have finally learned the secret to financial happiness and a better life after many errors. It?s not ?spend, spend, spend.? The secret is ?save, save, save.?

A banker will smile just as well for me over a savings account or certificates of deposit as he will for a car loan that will drag me down. I do better paying cash or taking only a smaller loan for a less expensive used car.

When I save, I should earn interest. I should try to keep a sizable savings account in a bank, a savings and loan or a credit union for living reserve.

But I also need something to earn a higher rate of interest so my money is working for me. With the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates low for banking institutions, the only way to do that is with stocks, either with a mutual fund or through individual stocks.

Federal Reserve rates will go up in the not-so-distant future, but not quite yet.

There are local brokers for mutual funds. For individual stocks, go to Yahoo Finance, and look for brokers in the advertising who can do investments at small enough amounts to fit a budget, perhaps with offices nearby in Kansas for the comfort of direct advice.

The safest stocks are those with profiles that may last another century, like Procter & Gamble or Leggett & Platt. Coca Cola probably still fits this category, but it is suffering from current diet desires for less refined sugar.

Remember that we live in a highly commercial culture with admonitions to buy even to our personal detriment. Even college campuses have credit card offers for students hanging at doorways.

Resist the urge of the media hype surrounding us. Doing so may enable you to quit working early in life if you want to.

When it comes time to live from self-effort and investment as a retiree, remember again the words of Billy Joel: ?I never said I was a victim of circumstance.?

Written By
More from Jerry Engler
Commissioners nix tax hike
Marion County commission voted 3-0 Monday to not take a two-mill increase...
Read More