Category: Financial Planning
A mortgage amortization schedule can be useful for: comparing my loan-balance calculations to the mortgage company’s records; identifying when mortgage insurance should no longer be required; planning the payoff of the mortgage prior to retirement or another significant life change; recognizing how much of the payment goes to insurance, taxes, etc. and will continue even after the mortgage is paid; analyzing the impact of extra payments (and later comparing this impact to the benefit of using those funds for a purpose other than mortgage payoff). Inside, there’s a link to a downloadable schedule.
For many years, I have been resistant to the idea of setting financial goals; instead, I have opted to accumulate wealth so that I have the means to make purchases when needed. This wealth-building approach can be effective, and is certainly better than not saving, investing, and growing assets.
Still, there are at least a couple of shortcomings to general wealth building: 1) I’m not sure when my goal has been achieved; and 2) I’m reluctant to spend down the assets that I’ve worked so hard to accumulate, largely because I’m not clear about the purpose of my investments and the timing of withdrawals.
Goal setting can inspire me to save and invest, and make me feel happier and more secure about spending.
I’ve been reading Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler. A point of interest is the discussion of automatic enrollment in 401k plans. Automatic enrollment may get employees started saving for retirement. But 401k default options associated with this type of sign-up (such as an investment choice of a money market fund and a savings rate of 3%) may be unlikely to help employees achieve the outcomes needed for a comfortable retirement.
According to Thaler, “Both of these default choices — the money market investment option and the 3% savings rate — were not intended by the employer to be either suggestions or advice. Instead, these options were picked to minimize the chance that the company would be sued.”
So, what’s the story about these default options?