Neal Gabler’s been getting a lot of crap for his Atlantic essay on mismanaging money, and certainly with some reason. Aspects of his story sound like a woe-is-me plea from a guy with First World issues, including a good living as writer and scholar, a former New York City residence replaced by a house in the Hamptons, and children who benefited from fine educations (and, in the most questionable financial decision mentioned in the story, a wedding paid for by Gabler’s 401k).
But Gabler’s story is worth reading, if only for the larger message about financial management. (I’ll put aside the parts of the story which touch on lack of economic growth; that’s a subject for, well, a political campaign.) He starts with an observation: a 2013 Fed survey in which 47% of respondents said they couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency. This is presumably the survey he’s talking about; the tidbit is on page 26.
Though I’m between jobs, I’m pretty fortunate, with some savings and severance. But the economy can be fickle and Lord knows emergencies can chew up money in no time flat. I’m not sympathetic to someone who blows a 401k on a wedding, but an unexpected hospital stay? Bye-bye, nest egg.
Moreover, he brings up the question of financial literacy, and I hope that’s something that gets a larger hearing. Between living paycheck to paycheck, anyway.
Anyway, read it.
And for a different perspective — on how keeping up with a showbiz life prompted author Neal Pollack to restructure his own life — here’s a sobering Q&A with the “Alternadad” writer. (And here’s an interview I did before he went to L.A. It’s got a couple nice bits of writing!)