Money and Happiness | When Jeff Bezos tells us not to buy a TV

 Money and Happiness |  When Jeff Bezos tells us not to buy a TV

In the newsletter money and happiness, sent by email on Tuesday, our journalist Nicolas Bérubé offers reflections on enrichment, the psychology of investors, financial decision-making. His texts are reproduced here on Sundays.


It’s always strange when billionaires offer personal finance advice. These people are so disconnected from the life of the average citizen that the exercise can quickly fall into discomfort.

Last week, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, stepped into this delicate territory.

Bezos, one of the world’s richest men and owner of a brand new US$500 million yacht, suggested people avoid buying big new items like a TV, fridge or even a car .

“If you’re considering buying a big screen TV, maybe delay your decision, save that money and see what happens,” he told CNN in an interview. Same thing with a refrigerator, a new car, whatever… Just take a little risk out of it. The economy is not looking very good at the moment, things are slowing down, we are seeing layoffs in many, many sectors. »

It’s not every day that a man who made his fortune in retail recommends that people stop spending their money on retail.

Personally, I find Bezos’ advice welcome. After all, giving up spending $2,000 is the equivalent of finding $2,000 on the ground while walking down the street.

I’ve said it before, I hate debt with a fervor usually reserved for phone scammers and bed bugs. When the unexpected happens, having cash on hand can be the difference between solving a problem quickly or going into debt.

I experienced this recently during a trip abroad, when I had the excellent idea of ​​jumping into the sea without realizing that the electronic key to our rental car was in my jersey pocket. .

I was relieved of $888 by this experience. My insurance company should normally cover this amount, but while waiting for the claim to be processed, I was able to resolve the problem in seconds without going into debt.

When we talk about saving and investing, we often have the impression that it’s boring because we will only benefit from it later, at retirement, for example. But it’s wrong. Having an emergency cushion gives us freedom from day 1, and that freedom follows us throughout our lives.

Costly and unpleasant contingencies will arise. Sometimes the unexpected can be more serious: a job loss, for example. Personal finance specialists advise people to have an emergency cushion equal to three to six months of our expenses.

Many suggest leaving this money in a bank account. Personally, I prefer to invest my emergency fund. In the event of a glitch, I sell a small part of my investments. It only takes me a few minutes.

Yes, I may have to sell them in a year when they have lost value. But the sums withdrawn represent only a fraction of my assets, and I am ready to take this risk; by definition, an emergency does not happen often.

The Chinese save an average of 50% of their income, and the Vietnamese about 35%. They know that economic, medical or other surprises will eventually reach them, and they do not want to suffer unnecessarily when it does.

In a world where debt is the norm, having access to a sum of money quickly and without having to borrow is practically a superpower. A superpower that can make the difference between heroes and zero as the economy slows.

I asked you last week if you were affected by the perceptible economic uncertainty and anxiety these days. Here are some of the responses received.

My spouse and I earn good wages in low-risk jobs […]. Despite everything, I see that my purchasing power is no longer the same as before. I have never made so much money, but it is as if I was at the same salary as five years ago. Despite the discomfort of this feeling of treading water, I haven’t lost my good savings and investment habits, rain or shine, even if it means reducing certain expenses.

Corinne

The inflation we are experiencing in 2022 forces us to review our budget. We must be careful to avoid disbursing our savings too quickly. The federal government has increased the Old Age Security pension for those aged 75 and over. But 65-year-old retirees also need help.

yvon