MoneySense: Common-Sense Approaches on How to Save, Invest and Achieve Long-Term Goals

Note to Readers of Gregory Bresiger.com. The philosophy of this blog is the idea of smart money management; of avoiding many of the mistakes that can ruin a person’s life. We have taken this idea and turned it into a mini-book that combines commonsense with simple money management concepts. Liam Judge, my partner and the person who is the defacto electronic publisher, and I have written a book that incorporates this philosophy, MoneySense. Here is the first chapter of the book. If you like it and want more, perhaps you will go to Amazon.com. There, for the marginal price of $2.99, you might be interested in reading the rest of the book. We thank our readers, people who allow GregoryBresiger.com, to survive.

Gregory Bresiger

 

“But the most and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.”

– James Madison [ The Federalist Papers, No. 10, p79, (The New American Library Of World Literature, New York, 1961]

 

Chapter 1
Lots of People Want Your Property

 

They‘re after your property. They‘re after your assets.

Indeed, from the first day you start earning money until the last day that you can, they‘re leering at your wealth, lusting after it.

Who Are They?

They are the wealth destroyers. They are numerous. They are all around you. They could have a terrible effect on your life if you are not careful. This book will help you identify some of them and limit the damage they can do.

They, the wealth destroyers, are in no particular order the following: the government, some of your relatives, the government, your personal needs, the government, your wife, your husband, jealous neighbours, the government, relatives, credit card companies, populist pols, your increasing health care costs as you age, the government, the relentless power of inflation, which wears on your wealth. And finally, of course, the government.

And, by the way, don‘t forget the government. That‘s because, where your wealth is concerned, it never forgets.

They are among myriad enemies or potential enemies of would-be wealth creation or preservation. Battling them, keeping them from taking over your life, is one of the subjects of this book.

Dreams Becoming Nightmares

Each of the wealth destroyers will sap your wealth, aborting your efforts to create it. They will end your dreams of taking it easy while you still have your original teeth. They can destroy your dreams of a house in a lovely suburban community, or an apartment in the center of the city or a lovely getaway somewhere that hasn‘t been overrun by traffic.

Do you want any or more of these things? And are you an average person who will earn a middle-class income over the course of a lifetime? Then what is your plan to build, protect and preserve wealth? In this age of ever higher taxation and runaway consumerism, that could send almost anyone scrambling for bankruptcy protection, everyone needs a plan to accumulate and protect wealth.

Looking for the Holy Grail? It Isn’t Here.

MoneySense isn‘t the Holy Grail of wealth creation. I certainly don‘t have the name of a hot stock that will make you a millionaire overnight. I don’t have a Hillary Clinton cattle futures tip for you. I also can’t provide you and yours with the political pull to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks that someone like Donald Trump has obtained. However, I am someone who started with almost nothing. Today, my wife and I are comfortable.

That is in part because I am a business journalist who has dealt with some brilliant people over the course of many years. Some of them have forgotten more about money management than I will ever know. But by listening, observing and writing, I have learned some of the techniques of wealth creation and destruction. And I have crossed paths with all sorts of people trying to achieve all kinds of financial goals.

This book can help you achieve many of them. Still, it requires a certain degree of discipline, a commitment to a plan.

Possibly you are someone who has taken the first steps to achieving these goals that only substantial wealth can bring. This book is for you. Remember, despite any success you may have had, there are so many ways that you can be tripped up.

How?

They Make the Promises—You and Your Children Pay for Them.

Let me stipulate that democratic governments, almost all of them, are normally run by career pols. They have ravenous appetites for wealth because they almost always have big plans to expand the government, which means they always want more money. And most popular governments, faced with money problems, will usually pretend they’re only after the wealth of the rich, but it is the great middle class that is usually bloodied. Why do these career politicians wreak so much havoc?

In a typical democracy the first order of business of the pol is get elected and the second order is to get re- elected.

Winning elections usually means making huge, sometimes insane, promises about creating or expanding programs. Back in 1972, for example, the president, republican Richard Nixon, and a Congress controlled by the opposition party, the democrats, were running for re-election. They started trying to outdo each other over which party could out-promise the other in raising Social Security benefits since the elderly were, and remain, a key voting block. Many elderly were delighted to receive higher benefit checks just before they went to the voting booths. They were so happy that they re-elected both the president and most Democrats in Congress. (President Nixon and leaders in Congress started arguing over who deserved credit for the benefit hikes).The problem was later the bills came due. And payroll taxes to pay for Social Security programs started soaring. Most pols didn’t care. They won their elections. I wrote about this in “The Great Social Security Deal of 1972,” which is available at Mises.com.

Let me illustrate with another example of why you will need to amass a lot because the government will inevitably be spending and taxing a lot more, why it is business as usual for most pols to make big promises on the hustings and forget to mention the bills that will come due after the elections. In a recent glowing endorsement of Hilary Clinton for president, even the New York Times wrote this of her and her many promises of new or expanded government programs: “Mrs. Clinton and her team have produced detailed proposals on crime, policing and race relations, debt-free college and small-business incentives, climate change and affordable broadband. Most of these proposals would benefit from further elaboration on how to pay for them, beyond taxing the wealthiest Americans.”

Promises, Promises

There was no way Mrs. Clinton could have ever kept all her promises by just taxing the richest of the rich. In almost any modern welfare democracy there is never enough rich people to go around; to pay all the bills of an ever expanding state. Mind you, The Times said these things in strongly endorsing Hillary Clinton, who went on to a stunning defeat in part because so many Americans didn’t trust her promises of bigger government with only a select group of rich people paying for it.

[This led to red ink in the Social Security system. Of course, years later Social Security taxes had to be raised. And benefits, sometimes in subtle ways, were cut. One example: At one time, you never paid taxes on your Social Security payments. Why should you? By the time you get Social Social Security, you will have typically paid into the system for decades. Paying taxes on your payments constitutes double taxation.]

Political promises usually are paid for in one way or another either directly through taxes or through money printing and inflation.

Inflation is a subtler, but no less destructive tax that affects almost everyone. But luckily for governments most people don‘t understand how it happens so they rarely become angry with our spendthrift political ruling classes of both parties and the mainstream media that often enables them. Too much spending inevitably leads to persistent cycles of more and more taxes until they can become almost unbearable. Then, too late, almost everyone starts to understand what inflation does to us as the value of the currency deteriorates at a shocking pace.

But fortunately for governments looking to raise taxes, few Americans study history. So citizens typically forget that our nation was started by sorehead merchants, landowners and individuals who didn‘t like paying unjustified or excessive taxes.

This book offers various strategies to cope with numerous forms of taxation. Why do you need these strategies?

The never ending government spending combined with taxation, along with a rampant “I‘ve got to have it now consumerism”, have ruined many a life. And many of these people now have broken financial lives.

The Magnificent Bankrupts

Yet, at some point, they made good money—sometimes very good money—and often for decades. They were people we once envied.

Indeed, they ended up with nothing or just eking out an existence in the last years of their lives. The Magnificent Ambersons end up in the same place as famous talk show second banana Ed McMahon—-a man who likely made $100 million or more in his career. They ended up broke.

That‘s something that would have been inconceivable to them throughout their seemingly blessed lives. Yet tens of millions of people in advanced welfare states in America and Europe are following this same sorry path. This book can help you avoid these financial disasters.

That‘s the point of “MoneySense”.

I don‘t want you to suffer money ulcers. I want you to achieve many or most of your dreams.

I want your years—-young, middle and last—to be years in which you may not have everything—-it would be boring to have everything. What would there be to shoot for?—-but years in which you and your family can live comfortably. I want you to look confidently to your financial future.

We’re not Mashuggah

Yet this book will offer you no crazy overnight dreams of wealth. These are the kind of dreams pursued by poor souls whose primary wealth creation strategy is throwing away ten or twenty dollars or more a week playing the lottery. By the way, the latter is a rigged game in which the odds of winning a substantial prize are never advertised for obvious reasons.

But how can MoneySense make your life better?

First, before a person can come up with a wealth generating strategy, one must recognize the numerous ways that wealth can be stillborn. To get from point A—a young person with little or nothing or a middle-aged person with a small amount of assets who wants more or an elderly person who has accumulated a nice stake, but who could easily lose it—-to point B, financial stability or perhaps independence, requires a plan. And a good plan in anything always assumes that something could go wrong with even the best of plans. In any human endeavour, there always seems to be at least a fair possibility that something could blow up.

So, in this book, we will discuss effective financial strategies for accumulating wealth and holding on to it over the long term. Our topics will include saving, investing, spending and credit cards, among others. We will also review the most common traps that can destroy your portfolio, bank account or retirement account.

Look Out for Those Traps

These traps will stop you from sending your young person to a first-rate university. They will end your dream of owning a home. They will prevent you from ever starting a business. And a small business is one of the most common ways that people improve themselves; making a better life for their families and, possibly, leaving something of great value to the next generation. You must be proactive in avoiding these traps that would destroy your efforts to achieve financial independence.

Again, step one is to recognize that there are many ways your dream can become a nightmare. Remember, the wealth destroyers are out there. They are just waiting to take hard earned money from you. And they—especially the impersonal big governments of the left and right that come and go like a bunch of streetwalkers [Pace streetwalkers: They run a business that provides personal service. Many people wonder just exactly what the average career pol does, besides issue useless press releases and talk on his or her cellphone.]— exist to perpetuate themselves. They grow bigger and bigger by gathering more and more money. Most governments don‘t care if you succeed or not. They care that you have wealth that they can tax and tax and tax some more, which is an anomaly. That‘s because governments want more and more money, but often seem not to care how they hurt the men and women who create wealth, the people who comprise the economy. It makes as much sense as working a golden goose to death because it isn‘t laying enough eggs. But the wealth destroyers often are aided and abetted by incendiary work of someone you would never guess. Many times that person is you. Many people, like the Ambersons and Ed McMahon, spend themselves into a lower standard of living, poverty and, in increasing numbers in America, bankruptcy.

So first, as we begin this journey, let‘s look at how you spend. Let‘s look at your consumerism. Here are some of the most important factors in determining if you can create and sustain the wealth that will make life better for you and your family. (Continued in Chapter 2) Go here to purchase the eBook on Amazon for just $2.99: http://amzn.to/2ilFI5p

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.