Friday, September 19, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

Front page story in today's WSJ on how Wall Street's Ills Are Seeping Into Everyday Lives has a couple of real gems:

Bob Conrad, a 59-year-old budget director at the U.S. District Court in Dallas, sees his chance for retirement next year slipping further away. After his nest egg lost 10% of its value, he moved his money a few months ago out of stocks. He thought he was set, but soaring food prices and seesawing energy prices already had him worried. And now, "this thing looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better," he said. "That's just my luck. Looks like I'll be working a while longer."

If you keep making boneheaded moves like keeping your nest egg in stocks when you want to retire in the next year, you might be working a lot longer.

On the other hand, Antonio D'Souza, a 28-year-old software engineer from San Francisco, sees today as the rainy day to spend his savings. As he watched his 401(k) retirement account lose half its value as of last month, he said, he soured on investing in the market and "decided I was just going to spend."

He bought a $350 juice extractor and a $700 bicycle, spent $600 on four pairs of pants, and then splurged on a trip to Japan. He celebrated, with "the most expensive meal I've ever had," he said, an eight-course Japanese feast.

This week's collapses at American International Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. have reinforced his view that "the money is worth more if spent now," he said.

Especially when you spend it so wisely. Forty years from now Antonio may be eating dog food, but he'll always have the memories of the juicer and his fancy pants. Good times, good times.

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