Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Radical Stays Home For Spring Break

It's spring break. At last. Time to clean up my study and get back down to work; time to go through the 250 emails in my in box and figure out how to clear them all before I return to school. Time to remind myself why I do this for a living: as I have said before on this blog, "It's the vacations, stupid." It won't work as a campaign slogan, but it does work as a life plan.

Yesterday was also the day to make the annual pilgrimage to our accountant: he's a former IRS special agent, which gives me loads of confidence in whatever strategy he suggests to keep as much money as possible out of the hands of the government. He manages to project limitless optimism and good cheer, a feature that I am sure helped him be successful at the IRS too. I can imagine those he investigated being utterly captivated by his personality and leading him around the house to show where they stowed the large paper bags of money they never reported. He also believes in positive reinforcement: he congratulated me on how much money I made this year in speaking, writing and consulting fees (this prevents the federal government from declaring my unreimbursed research and writing expenses a "hobby," a truly fine irony given how crucial this virtually unpaid work is to my professional advancement); and he noted with pleasure how much of my total income I managed to tuck away in various tax-deferred accounts. One of the reasons I am glad that Mike Huckabee is apparently not going to be President is that if he closed the IRS as he had promised to do, then I would have no reason to visit this lovely gentleman to be told what a clever person I am for not having used the equity in our house as an ATM as so many Americans have done. And I would miss the traditional self-indulgent stop at Trader Joe's N and I make afterwards to reward ourselves for being such thrifty and, as our guy also pointed out, well-organized, people.

For all the younger faculty out there: save, save, save. The ability to retire from your full-time job at a reasonable age and live your life precisely as you wish to is something you need to think about decades in advance.

Because it is spring, it is also time for a little blogroll updating. I have taken a few people down who never seem to post anymore, but added the following history blogs:

Edge of the American West Do not be dismayed by recent chaos, which caused a single post on a Civil War battle to be reposted several times. This is a group blog, coordinated by Eric Rauchway and Ari Kelman: you can read about them here. I am also long overdue in adding Rob MacDougall's blog, Old is the New New, which is really well-written and interesting.


ari said...

Thanks for adding us to your blogroll. That's very nice of you. As for your excellent financial advice, I'm afraid that I have my eye on a candle-apple red Ferrari. Plus, the chocolate-chip cookies at the student union are really delicious. So I mostly invest in those. There really should be a more vibrant cookie futures market. Sigh.

Have a wonderful break.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it matters how much we save, if we don't get full-time jobs until we are 30 at the earliest, even then we make the median US salary or under, many of us work in markets where we will never even get to the point of having a house we could use as an ATM, and then the stockmarket, which is our only hope of increasing our savings, tanks. Oh, and then there are little things like working at campuses that don't reimburse any professional activity and paying for our kids to go to college. I doubt we are going to get to retire--we'll go to ground paying for the baby boomers.

PiggyBankBlues said...

i couldn't agree more, TR, saving what little you can adds up along the way. $50 a month in a Roth IRA for 30 years at an 8% annual return will get you over eighty grand. no, it's not enough to retire on, but it's an illustration of how a little goes a long way. your accountant is optimistic because the math has happier endings than the daily economic news.

Anonymous said...

$80,000k? 2 years salary at current salary levels for many, not taking into account inflation. I am not saying "don't save," but I am saying, "don't kid yourself that you will get to retire." I think many of us will end up in part-time or adjuncting positions to cover our daily expenses until we can't think any more, at which time they will set us out on the street and we will die.

Debrah said...

Fresh from The Diva World.....

Here's a new drink concocted in honor of Obama. The name chosen for the drink was taken from a column written by NYTimes' David Brooks.

Supporters might wish to try it!

The Chosen One

1 ounce Kahlua

1 ounce Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

1 ounce Absolut Mandarin

Dash of bourbon, Maker's Mark is fine

Orange twist

Mix Kahlua, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, Absolut Mandarin and a dash of whiskey in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over a few ice cubes into a small rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Rob MacDougall said...

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll! You know I've been a reader and a fan for quite some time. Old is the New New is a little quiet right now as we struggle through paper-grading season, finishing a book manuscript, and parenthood, but there's lots of old junk to explore.