Makin' Money

How’d he do that?

Chris Farrell Jan 17, 2011

Leonard McCracken is 107 years old. He has been retired since 1969 with no pension. He’s lived off savings, Social Security and a lifetime annuity. “At 107, after living in retirement for 41 years, he’s still paying the bills and getting by on his own resources.”

His son says McCracken never made more than $10,000 a year. The article asks: “How does a guy with modest income manage such a retirement planning feat? McCracken points to a half-dozen basic principals that have gotten him through life and continue to serve him well.”

The lessons are: Thrift, invest in real estate, use debt well, work even when jobs are hard to find, save and invest conservatively, and stay healthy. I liked this.

The behaviorists are helping to pick your pocket. Watch out. Banks are coming up with new ways to make money by marrying the insights of behavioral scholars with their rich databases of your spending habits. Banks are putting ads onto the list of recent purchases on consumers’ online bank statements. The artice gives this example: Let’s say you charged breakfast at McDonald’s. On your statement there might be an offer for 10 percent cash back on your next meal at the Golden Arches. Don’t worry, if you accept the deal McDonald’s will recognize your debit card the next time it is swiped.

Online banking is the latest frontier in the controversial field known as behavioral marketing, in which detailed personal information is used to target advertising. Consumer groups have decried the practice as an invasion of privacy, particularly since users often do not realize who has access to the most intimate details of their lives.

It’s kind of creepy. Banks have already done a lot to lose our trust, but this goes to the core of our business with them. Will the income they get from selling your spending habits offset the lack of trust. Label me skeptical.

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