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Save. Then save even more

Henry "Bud" Hebeler left Boston with a graduate degree in engineering from MIT for a job at Boeing in Seattle in 1956.

Some three decades after making that trip in a Volkswagen Beetle, he retired as president of the company's aerospace unit. It wasn't long before Hebeler, disturbed by much of the advice dispensed by the retirement-planning industry, began a new career: A passionate proselytizer for sensible financial planning.

His advice and personal finance programs at his website analyzenow.com is conservative and insightful. The core of his advice for everyone in these troubled times is the need to save more--now.

Henry Hebeler: The time has come to be very frugal and save money. Baby boomers have saved far too little money as a whole to be able to retire early, if at all. Employers stopped pension plans in favor of savings plans which are underutilized and, worse, often used as a source for a personal loan. The national debt is growing at an astonishing rate which, like any debt, will eventually turn out to be a personal problem that will be job-killing and a substantial tax burden. We desperately need more savings.

I was brought up in the great depression. A friend, now over 90 years old, tells of some of the things she did to save money. She inscribed a line in their bath tub so that family members would not fill the tub above that line. She bought a used book titled "365 Ways To Make Jell-O," and she did just that. The family kept the thermostat down and wore sweaters. She had a vegetable garden and canned both vegetables and fruit.

In World War II, our family saved lots of money. Unlike now, when we see all kinds of things to tempt us, there was little to buy. No new appliances or automobiles were available since manufacturers were making tanks, military trucks, bombers, gun turrets, etc. You couldn't buy a radio or anything electric. Food and gasoline were rationed.

My mother could use the car once a week which required strategic route planning to accomplish the chores within her meager gas allowance. Like almost everyone, we had a vegetable "Victory" garden. There were no turkeys, so Thanksgiving and Christmas required substitutes, often Spam. One holiday we went to a neighbor's house and were served their little boy's pet rabbit. The boy cried throughout the meal, so none of us could eat it.

In World War II, everyone bought savings bonds to save and fund the war effort. Even children put their pennies into savings stamps. After accumulating $12.50 of stamps, you could turn them in for a savings bond. Once again, savings bonds, particularly I Bonds, may be a good investment since they will not lose value in a depression, are liquid after one year, and will keep up with high inflation.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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