Day: August 30, 2019

Personal Finance Daily: How Hurricane Dorian is affecting flights, cruises and theme parks in Florida and what NOT to buy on Labor Day weekend

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Happy Friday, MarketWatchers. Here are some of the day’s top stories to carry you into the long weekend.

Personal Finance
How Hurricane Dorian is affecting flights, cruises and theme parks in Florida

Travelers should start to consider rebooking planned trips.

This 50-year-old dog walker retired after making more than $1 million — working just three days a week

Kristin Morrison started a business doing what she loves.

What NOT to buy on Labor Day weekend

With Black Friday just around the corner, holding off on certain purchases could be a smart move.

This college professor spills 6 secrets that every freshman should know

Know what it takes to be successful before you step into your first college class.

These are the most outrageous lies people have put on their résumés

Millennials are five times more likely to put #LiesOnMyResume than boomers. Here are the worst.

Cold-pressed juice is now being marketed to the craft cocktail set

Twisted Alchemy brand has seen remarkable sales growth.

Amazon and Facebook were just like Uber after their IPOs — and look at them now

Why Wall Street has long had a problem valuing these revolutionary companies.

Investors could get a great deal on real estate in Opportunity Zones — and that could be a problem

Critics of the community redevelopment effort argue that real-estate speculation could drive gentrification.

How to get tax breaks when you support your parents

You don’t have to live with your parent to claim them as a dependent.

Elsewhere on MarketWatch
Trump faults companies over management as tariffs set to take effect

President Donald Trump on Friday took a slap at what he called badly run companies, saying there isn’t a problem with tariffs as a new round of levies on Chinese goods was due to take effect Sunday.

It’s Labor Day weekend: Here’s what Trump has done for workers

The record is mixed — and the good parts may not really have happened because of him, writes Tim Mullaney.

Here are 2019’s biggest stock market winners and losers in the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq

The best performers include Chipotle, AMD, Apple and Visa. The losers comprise Macy’s and Kraft Heinz.

Crypto-Jacking on the Rise According to McAfee Report

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crypto-jacking

Crypto-jacking campaigns increased substantially in the first quarter of 2019 according to a McAfee Labs Threats Report published yesterday.

The prevalence of ransomware attacks climbed a massive 118% during Q1, while malware attacks increased by 29% in the same period. The report also states that the attacks were indiscriminate, meaning that both Windows and Apple users were targeted. The majority of attacks on Windows users were carried out using PowerShell, which is a scripting language that allows system administrators to rapidly automate tasks and manage operating systems.

One of the larger crypto-jacking campaigns reported by McAfee was the malware PsMiner, which is specifically targeted at Monero (XMR). XMR is currently the 12th largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $1.16 billion USD and is popular among users as it allows for completely anonymous peer-to-peer transactions, without even tracing the user’s address, as well as the potential for high rewards. Recently, French authorities stopped a virus that had infected over 850,000 devices in order to mine Monero.

Apple users were targeted by a malware called CookieMiner, which shared code with a past campaign in order to steal digital wallets and credentials. CookieMiner stole data from many popular exchanges, including Binance, Coinbase, and MyEtherWallet. Despite the huge increase in crypto-jacking campaigns, McAfee’s report stressed that hackers still require the involuntary cooperation of victims. “Even with all the sophisticated attack techniques being developed, attackers are still highly dependent on human interaction and social engineering,” the report concluded.

>> Japan’s Crypto Exchange Coincheck Cuts Margin Trade Limit

McAfee’s report comes just weeks after CipherTrace published its Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Report. This report estimated that in Q1 2019, cryptocriminals illicitly obtained 1.2 billion USD in cryptocurrency. Both of these reports reiterate the need for increased monitoring of crypto platforms by authorities. In June, the G20 nations gave their full support to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) new “traffic rule,” which requires transactions between exchanges to include personal information about the sender and receiver of funds.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos © maxkabakov

What NOT to buy on Labor Day weekend

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When Americans aren’t busy firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue or hitting the road this Labor Day weekend, there’s a good chance they’ll be looking to shop the holiday sales. But if consumers aren’t careful, they could actually be missing out on savings.

While not as big as Black Friday, Independence Day or Memorial Day, retailers still use Labor Day weekend as an opportunity to move merchandise off the shelves in the lead-up to the holiday shopping season. The weekend is also a last-ditch opportunity for many shoppers looking to score back-to-school bargains.

Read more: Here’s exactly what time to get on the road to beat Labor Day traffic

As a result, there are some good deals to be had, but most sales don’t offer the best possible savings. “Labor Day is one of the weaker sales weekends of the year,” said Kristin Cook, managing editor for BensBargains.com. “Most retailers will save their really good stuff for Black Friday, which has turned into basically Black November.”

Here’s what to skip this year or, at least, approach with caution.

Avoid: Fall apparel and footwear

Though the prospect of prepping for layering season may be tempting, Labor Day is perhaps one of the worst times to buy fall clothing. For shoppers in desperate need of warmer clothing as autumn weather rolls in, the first two or three weeks of September are a better time to shop because retailers start heavily marking down “back to school” apparel, Cook said. Better yet, they can wait for clearance sales during Black Friday.

Labor Day is however a good time to buy summer clothing, including swimwear and shorts. Expect retailers also to stock the shelves with this year’s popular Halloween costumes to catch the eyes of trick-or-treaters, but avoid whipping out the wallet to buy one. The best time to buy costumes is right after Halloween.

Avoid: Jewelry

Jewelers tend to restock in October, said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at deals website RetailMeNot. Consequently, these stores will be disinclined to offer any significant deals in September with such low inventory.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be somewhat better, but the best time to shop for that diamond ring or necklace will be in the weeks following Valentine’s Day.

Avoid: Electronics

Deals on items like laptops, televisions and smartphones actually aren’t bad in early September. But those who can wait should. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts prove to be much deeper so purchasing any electronics Labor Day weekend will make a larger dent in your wallet than needed,” Skirboll said.

Along similar lines, don’t expect deals on items from Amazon AMZN, -0.90%  . “Amazon puts most of their focus on Prime Day for the summer, so they don’t seem to do be doing any big Labor Day pushes,” Cook said.

Avoid: Toys and video games

Some stores will offer deals on video games and toys during Labor Day, but consumers are almost certainly better off waiting for Black Friday or even later, said Phil Dengler, co-founder of BestBlackFriday.com.

This is especially true for video game consoles. Not only will the discounts be better at the height of holiday shopping season for these items, but many retailers will offer them as bundles with games and gift cards, Dengler said.

Also see: 6 things NOT to buy on Cyber Monday

Avoid: Purchases through credit card shopping portals

As Black Friday creeps closer, credit-card companies will begin to ramp up the deals they offer through their deal portals, said Ashley Dull, credit strategist and editor in chief of CardRates.com. As a result, discounts offered now by credit cards won’t be as competitive.

Consumers should also approach Labor Day deals with caution if their credit card features rotating bonus categories. “Cards with rotating bonus categories will typically switch to popular holiday retailers during the fourth quarter, unlocking extra rewards,” Dull said.

What to approach with caution

Though Labor Day discounts will pale in comparison to the holiday shopping season, sales on certain items can be competitive.

  • Appliances: Sales on major appliances are typically better during other times of the year. For instance, in May retailers often put refrigerators on sale, because new models become available in June. But some retailers, including Macy’s M, -1.18%   and Best Buy BBY, +0.08%, are offering up to 40% off some goods this weekend, which is in line with Black Friday pricing.
  • Gas grills: Labor Day is most famous for its sales on grills — and good deals are often available this weekend as prime grilling season comes to a close. Sales can range between 25% and 75% off, Dengler said. Consumers could save even more by waiting until October or November, although selection will be more limited then.
  • Summer items: With autumn only weeks away, stores are going to be deeply discounting inventory that’s geared toward summer, such as lawn mowers, air conditioners, patio furniture and swimming pools. These discounts will be available across many retailers including The Gap GAP, +0.08%, Target TGT, -0.86%, Walmart WMT, -0.05%  and The Home Depot HD, +0.05%.
  • Mattresses: While many will say Memorial Day weekend is the best time to buy a mattress, Labor Day is a good alternative if you missed the sales in May. Major retailers including JCPenney JCP, +2.18%  and Wayfair W, -1.70%  will be offering discounts of up to 75% off on their mattress inventory this weekend, according to Dengler.
  • Cars: With new models rolling onto lots this time of year, car dealerships will be looking to sell their remaining inventory of 2018 models. In addition to lower prices, car buyers will find attractive financing offers this weekend and rebates, though they should still plan to negotiate a better price.

This story was updated on Aug. 30, 2019.

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How Hurricane Dorian is affecting flights, cruises and theme parks in Florida

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Hurricane Dorian is set to hit Florida on Monday or Tuesday just as Labor Day weekend draws to a close.

Travelers planning end-of-summer trips to the Sunshine State may want to rethink their vacation. As of Friday afternoon, Hurricane Dorian packed maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, making it Category 3 storm based on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm was more than 600 miles east of West Palm Beach on Friday afternoon and was expected to slowly make its way west over the coming days, during which time forecasters believe it will intensify. Current projections suggest the storm will make landfall on Florida’s Atlantic coast sometime late Monday or early Tuesday. From there, it is expected to turn northward and move up the Florida peninsula.

Much of the Bahamas is now under a hurricane watch. The storm is expected to dump up to six to 12 inches of rain across the Northwestern Bahamas and southeastern United States, with some isolated areas expected to receive 18 inches of precipitation. On the coasts, a storm surge of between 10 and 15 feet is expected.

Don’t miss: As Florida braces for Hurricane Dorian, here’s what you should pack in your ‘financial go-bag’

For travelers who are visiting Florida or planning to take cruises out of one of its many ports, Hurricane Dorian could cause a great deal of confusion as reports of damage come in and its track continues to shift. Here is what travelers need to consider if they were originally scheduled to visit the affected region in the coming days:

Airlines are offering fee waivers

Delta DAL, -0.33%  is waiving flight-change fees for flights between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4 through airports across the state of Florida, as well as Brunswick Golden Isles Airport in Georgia. Tickets must be reissued on or before Sept. 10, and rebooked travel must begin no later than Sept. 10. Travel that is rebooked after that date will not incur a change fee, but may incur a difference in fares.

From now through Sept. 4, Delta is also waiving all baggage and pet-in-cabin fees for flights to/from the following cities: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach. Unaccompanied minors will not be allowed to fly to or from those same cities between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4.

JetBlue JBLU, -0.49%  is waiving change and cancellation fees for flights through Nassau scheduled between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2 and flights through multiple Florida airports between Aug. 30 and Sept. 3. Bahamas travelers may rebook for travel through Sept. 7, while Florida travelers may rebook through Sept. 10. Those whose flights are cancelled because of the storm may opt for a refund to the original form of payment.

Southwest Airlines LUV, -0.13%  warned customers that flights to/from Nassau, Bahamas and multiple airports across Florida could be disrupted by Dorian between now and Sept. 5. Customers affected by these disruptions can rebook in their original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel without paying additional charges. Those whose flights are canceled may request a refund.

United Airlines UAL, -0.63%  is waiving fees for those flying to, from or through multiple airports in Florida and the Bahamas between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4. For travel rebooked through Sept. 11, the change fee and difference in fair will be waived as long as the travel is in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed. After Sept. 11, customers will be on the hook for fare differences. Rescheduled travel must occur within a year of the date the ticket was issued.

Cruises are changing itineraries

A number of cruise lines with planned voyages coming into Florida or leaving from the state’s Port Canaveral and Port Everglades cruise hubs are making changes to the preplanned itineraries. Cruise travelers should regularly check the various companies’ websites in the coming days to determine if and/or how their trips will be affected. Depending on damage to ports in Florida, ships already at sea may remain at sea longer than originally planned, and upcoming voyages may be cancelled.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney DIS, -0.70%  has so far altered the schedules for two of its upcoming voyages. The Disney Dream will depart as planned today from Port Canaveral, and its current voyage will now be a five-day sailing with an expected return on Sept. 4. The ship will visit Cozumel, Mexico, and Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, depending on Dorian’s path. Guests who no longer want to go on this cruise were given the option to rebook by 12 p.m. on Friday. They must choose a new sail date by Oct. 31 — they won’t be charged change fees, but could be expected to pay the price difference for the new voyage.

The Disney Dream’s subsequent Sept. 2 sailing will as a result be delayed until Sept. 4 and turned into a two-night sailing, with an expected return on Sept. 6. The ship is expected to visit Castaway Cay unless Dorian creates severe damage. Travelers who still choose to go on this voyage will receive a 50% refund of their voyage fare and a $250 onboard credit per stateroom. Those who rebook must notify Disney by Sept. 1 at 12 p.m. and will have until Oct. 31 to rebook. These guests won’t be charged a change fee, but may be expected to pay more if the price for the new sailing is different.

Read more: Norwegian Cruise Line took dramatic action ahead of Hurricane Irma

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Sky NCLH, +0.70%   sailing that began on Aug. 25 will still visit Cozumel, Mexico, on Aug. 30, but will not return to Miami on Sept. 1 as originally planned. Instead, the ship will overnight in Cozumel until Sept. 1. Guests will have the option to conclude their cruise their and arrange transportation home from Mexico or remain on board. Those who do choose to end in Cozumel will receive a 25% future cruise credit.

The Norwegian Sky sailing that began on Aug. 26 will no longer call to Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas and instead will return to Miami a day early on Friday, Aug. 30. Guests will be able to remain onboard until 7 am on Aug. 31 and will receive a 20% refund of the original cruise fair paid.

The Norwegian Sun sailing that began on Aug. 29 will no longer make calls to Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay or Freeport in the Bahamas. Instead, the ship will stay at sea on Aug. 30 and then visit Cozumel on Aug. 31. The ship is scheduled to return to Port Canaveral on Sept. 2. Any excursions that are cancelled as a result of the cyclone will be refunded.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival CCL, +0.05%  is actively monitoring the situation for a wide range of cruises that are leaving from or returning to ports across the state of Florida over the coming week. Travelers can sign up for text alerts to be notified regarding changes to their voyages. The following cruises have had itinerary changes:

• The Carnival Liberty will depart Port Canaveral as planned on Friday, Aug. 30, but will make a shorter call in Nassau.

• The Carnival Elation sailing that began Aug. 29 and the Carnival Liberty cruise may not be able to return to Port Canaveral on Monday as planned if the port is closed.

• The Carnival Victory departing Miami on Aug. 31 will now visit Grand Turk on Sept. 2, Half Moon Cay on Sept. 3 and Nassau on Sept. 4.

• The Carnival Victory, which departs Friday, replaced the call to Nassau with a visit to Key West on Saturday. It may not be able to return to Miami on Monday as originally planned depending on the track of storm.

• The Carnival Miracle will now operate as an 8-day sailing, departing on Saturday instead of Sunday from Tampa. Guests who can no longer travel on the cruise will be allowed to cancel and receive a future cruise credit.

Pre-purchased shore excursions that are cancelled will be automatically refunded.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean RCL, +0.67%  said it’s “actively assessing the progression of Hurricane Dorian and adjusting itineraries to keep our ships, guest, and crew safely out of the storm’s path. We continue to share frequent updates with our guests on the status of our sailings via onboard announcements, guest letters, emails, and texts. The latest itinerary modifications are available at www.royalcaribbean.com/ItineraryUpdates and www.celebrity.com.”

Theme parks may shut down in advance of the storm

SeaWorld SEAS, +0.94%  , which operates SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, Aquatica Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, has enacted its “Peace of Mind” policy, a spokeswoman said. Any vacation package or individual tickets booked for any of these parks can be rescheduled or refunded without cancellation or change fees.

A spokeswoman for Universal Studios Orlando Resort CMCSA, -0.27%  said that theme park operations and hours are continuing as normal at this time. If the storm is forecast to hit the Orlando area directly, the company has plans and procedures in place to modify operations.

Walt Disney World, where the new Star Wars attractions opened this week, did not respond to a request for comment, but the travel website WDW Today posted photos on Twitter TWTR, +0.01%  showing theme park employees taking down banners and apparently preparing the parks for the potential storm. In 2017, when Hurricane Irma hit the state, Walt Disney World made the rare choice to close its theme parks, water parks and Disney Springs shopping area. Guests stuck in the resort’s hotels during the storm were provided with meals and entertainment during the foul weather.

Those evacuating Florida meanwhile will have options to distract themselves as they wait out the storm. Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga., said Friday that its offering free admission to evacuees during Labor Day weekend. To take advantage of the offer, consumers must show valid IDs from Florida counties under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Retirement Weekly: How retirees should plan for an imminent recession

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How should retirees respond to the steadily growing drumbeat of stories about an imminent recession?

Just this week, you may recall, the 2-year versus 10-year yield curve became more inverted than at any time since 2007, right as the Great Recession was beginning. The federal government revised downward its estimate of second-quarter GDP growth from an already tepid 2.1% to 2.0%. It was reported that parts of America may already be facing a recession.

I therefore am taking a fresh look at how retirees and soon-to-be retirees should respond if they think a recession is coming.

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Retirement Weekly: Thinking of joining a nonprofit board in your retirement? Look before you leap

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Many retirees serve on nonprofit boards. If you ask a roomful of them to rate their experience, some would rave about the joy of giving back. Others would call it a disaster.

Joining the board of directors of a nonprofit organization is a hit-or-miss proposition. But if you do your due diligence and follow a few simple rules at the outset, you’re more likely to come away satisfied.

“The nonprofit community always needs more board members,” said Cynthia Remec, executive director of New York City-based BoardAssist. “But if folks don’t approach the matching process thoughtfully, they won’t be happy with the board they join, which is a shame as there are more than enough boards that are great fits for most people.”

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Outside the Box: These 10 reasons sum up why you’ll never be financially independent

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You didn’t procreate mindfully

On a trip a few years ago to Louisville, Kentucky we happened upon a guilty pleasure we hadn’t entertained in years — a White Castle restaurant. So we quickly veered off the road, entered the forlorn eatery and ordered an embarrassing amount of belly bombs.

And while we waited for our greasy little square burgers to be prepared, we started conversing with the cashier, a lovely young lady. And the more we talked, the more I got depressed. It turns out our lovely cashier had two kids, no husband, and no credential beyond a high school diploma. She wasn’t 20 yet and she managed to saddle herself with a financial handicap (unwed motherhood) that in all likelihood will doom her to a life of want and struggle.

Achieving financial independence is hard enough without kids. If you want to achieve financial independence at a relatively early age, and do so with some mini-yous in tow, you better do some serious thinking and planning.

Raising kids properly is a very time-consuming and wallet-draining proposition. This doesn’t mean procreating and financial independence are mutually exclusive. It just means you can’t procreate willy-nilly. If you start having kids before you have savings, worthwhile skills, social capital, and income redundancy, you will be working — at the very least — until your full Social Security retirement age.

Read: How to raise frugal kids as you save for early retirement and Growing up with FIRE: These adults on the path to early retirement share lessons from their frugal parents

You have destructive vices

There’s a difference between watching a lot of television and smoking a lot of crystal meth. The former is bad in a spiritual sense. Do you really want to look back on your life and realize that you spent the bulk of your free time sitting in front of a glowing rectangle, doing nothing? The latter, however, is really bad in a financial sense. It’s hard to be a financial dynamo when you fry your brain and lose your ability to function.

Every man and woman must have a vice. So choose your vice carefully. Choose a vice that’s financially benign (i.e., blogging, knitting, playing Scrabble, etc.). Don’t choose a vice that will bleed your bank account, jeopardize your health and erode your dependability as a worker (i.e., smoking cigarettes, betting on the horses, spending hours ensconced in a bar stool, snorting cocaine, etc.).

Read: This couple went from saving almost nothing to 70% of their income — here’s how they changed their mindset

You have no interest in mastering your job

Up until my mid-30s, my career was floundering. And the biggest reason for this was my attitude. I had a very elevated opinion of myself, and I thought I was too good for picking up dead animals, shoveling asphalt and cutting grass. (Not a good opinion to have when you work for a highway department and your job is to pick up dead animals, shovel asphalt and cut grass).

Now don’t ask me why, but it suddenly hit me that it may behoove me to show some pride. I may not ever find success, I reasoned, but at least I would be worthy of it. So I dedicated myself to becoming the best damn dead-animal picker-upper, asphalt shoveler, and grass cutter around.

And then a funny thing happened. People noticed. I started getting compliments from taxpayers and upper management alike. And then opportunity followed. I told a supervisor I had database skills and he gave me a shot at improving his operation. And I improved his operation. Soon other supervisors sought my help. And then the commissioner put me on his staff.

In a few short years, I went from picking up dead animals to being the IT guy of the highway department. And all because I decided to do an unglamorous job exceedingly well.

There is no such thing as a menial job. There is such a thing, however, as a menial attitude. If you think you’re above certain tasks and jobs, and you half-ass every “lowly” assignment your employer gives you, it’s highly unlikely your employer will pick you for the more plum and remunerative tasks and assignments he or she has to offer. Competency begets promotions and raises. Half-assedness begets wage stagnation or worse.

You don’t have a burning desire to create

Since Groovy Ranch went operational nine months ago, I’ve made a table, constructed a crude gym, painted Old Glory on our garage and fabricated a tray to complement our coffee table. All told, these four projects cost me around $300 in materials. [Mrs. Groovy here: You forgot to mention the row of wall hooks with the wood stained to match the table.]

In the scheme of things, my four creations are hardly profound. Any well-manicured ape can connect pipe to wood and slap paint on the side of a building. But these mundane creations make me happy. They also give me a sense that I matter, that I’m not just some schnook who has completely surrendered the physical manifestation of his world to others. I too have a say in what my world looks like. I’m a creator, goddamit!

Now contrast the make-things-way of bringing meaning to one’s life with the buy-things-way. Not only is creation therapy more impressive than retail therapy — in a world awash in easy credit and online shopping, it doesn’t take much effort to buy something — but it’s also a hell of a lot cheaper. Wowing people with Old Glory cost me less than 50 bucks. Wowing people the retail way (e.g., a fabulous trip, a remodeled kitchen, a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl, etc.) would have cost considerably more.

You’re afraid to look poor

There are two kinds of people when it comes to having a realistic shot of achieving financial independence. Those who can look rich and still maintain a high savings rate, and those who can’t look rich if they hope to maintain a high savings rate. Mrs. Groovy and I definitely fell into the latter category. We made decent money for North Carolina, but nowhere near the amount necessary to fill our lives with upper-middle-class trappings and max out our 401(k)s. It was one or the other. Show the world “we arrived” and work until 70, or let the world think we were struggling and retire at 55.

We decided to “look poor” (Walmart clothes and a 2004 dinged-up Camry were great camouflage) and save roughly 60% of our gross household income.

“Looking poor” is the superpower that makes financial independence possible for those with middle-class incomes. If you can’t stomach the thought of looking like some working-class schlub, and you are saddled with a middle-class income, you will never be financially independent.

(Just in case you may not be familiar with the Groovy story, Mrs. Groovy and I didn’t start saving for retirement until the ripe old age of 45. But thanks to a 60% savings rate, and a kind stock market, we were able to achieve financial independence in 10 years.)

Read: Want to retire rich? Have a small wedding and invest the rest

You don’t have supportive family and friends

Moving from Long Island to North Carolina proved to be the smartest financial move of our lives. Had Mrs. Groovy and I remained on Long Island, there’s no way we’d be financially independent today. But I doubt very much that we would have pulled the trigger on geoarbitrage if our families were against it. It’s not that Mrs. Groovy and I are wusses. It’s just that we have terrific families and it would have been hard to disappoint them. Thankfully, however, our families couldn’t have been more supportive.

Achieving financial independence is very hard. You need discipline, good health, a steady income, a friendly stock market, and — above all — family and friends who want you to succeed. If your family and friends think financial independence is stupid, and they subtly and not so subtly sabotage your efforts, you will never achieve financial independence.

Read: 12 good investing lessons to teach kids — and yourself

You care more about some team than your net worth

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a dear friend about 20 years ago. The opening of a new NFL season was nigh and my friend couldn’t have been more jacked. He really thought his team, the New York Jets, was on the cusp of something big. When he asked for my opinion of the Jets’ prospects, I told him that I didn’t give a flying f*ck about the Jets. I was more concerned with him and me having “a great year.” The Jets, as well as any sports franchise on the planet, meant nothing to me.

My friend was stunned. His life was just as dreary as mine if not more so, and, yet, despite the physical, social, and financial woes that dogged his existence, he found my lack of concern for the New York Jets bewildering. In his mind, few things were more important than rooting for a bunch of strangers running around in costumes on television.

There’s nothing wrong with professional sports, of course. It’s fun going to or watching an occasional game. It’s even fun rooting for “your team.” But if you think sports are critical to life on earth, and you invest more time, emotion and money in them than you do your own finances, you will never be financially independent.

You consume too much mainstream news

Mainstream news today isn’t designed to make you a more thoughtful citizen. It’s designed to make you think the “system’s rigged,” opportunity is dead and your only hope is to give the guys and gals running Washington more control over your life. In other words, our country’s most high-powered journalists want you to be a well-mannered slave. Just kiss the rings of our glorious politicians and all will be well — you’ll have all the bread and circuses your benighted soul will ever need.

Life, however, isn’t a spectator sport — especially if you want to do something great like achieve financial independence and retire early. If you believe the crap peddled by mainstream news — that you have little agency over your circumstances and that financial success is only for the “privileged” few — you won’t come close to ever sniffing financial independence.

You have never been taught the art of being satisfied with enough

Mrs. Groovy and I recently bought a new-to-us car, a 2016 CR-V. Was it the best car Mrs. Groovy and I could afford? No. Mrs. Groovy and I could have easily bought the 2019 version of any of the most popular sedans or SUVs. But our 2016 CR-V with 32,000 miles was a huge improvement over our old car, a 2004 Camry with 192,000 miles. As far as fulfilling our transportation needs, the 2016 CR-V was more than enough.

There’s a big difference between what is enough — the minimum required to get the job done — and what you can afford. Does anyone really need a McMansion? Or a brand-new Cadillac Escalade? Or a Harvard education? Aren’t a humble cottage, a used but decent car and an education at a nondescript state college perfectly adequate?

If you’re constantly choosing afford over enough and you’re always flirting with the carrying capacity of your paycheck, you will never save and you will never know financial independence.

Read: Want to retire early? Tanja Hester went from freewheeling spender to financial independence, and says it’s simpler than you think

You’d rather wallow in victimhood than learn from the financially successful

Prior to my 40th birthday, I was the king of lamentations. “My financial life would be so much better,” I would torture myself. “If only…”

• “I hadn’t been a sociology major in college.”

• “I hadn’t landed a job with such a dysfunctional municipality.”

• “I hadn’t been born on Long Island, one of the highest cost-of-living areas in the country.”

• “I wasn’t being screwed over by the politicians in Washington and Albany.”

• “I didn’t have such lousy connections.”

And here’s the rub. I had co-workers at my dysfunctional municipality who didn’t have college degrees, who faced the same financial headwinds that I faced, and who were thriving financially nonetheless.

I had friends and family members who couldn’t come close to outscoring me on the SAT but had no problem out-earning me and out-saving me.

And then there were the libraries and bookstores all around me. Each one of them had scores of personal finance books written by financially successful people. And all that financial wisdom was there for the taking — for free, or for less than the cost of a case of beer.

Here’s the bottom line. Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started studying what financially successful people did and didn’t do, nothing could stop my financial renaissance. All I did was take note of their strategies and attitudes and apply those strategies and attitudes to my circumstances. Easy peasy. The next thing I knew I had a shockingly large portfolio and the chutzpah to start a personal finance blog.

The victim mentality is the bane of financial independence. If you don’t believe you’re the primary impediment to your financial success, and you look at the wealthy and successful not as teachers, but as crooks, you will forever be a financial basket case.

Mr. Groovy and his wife started saving for retirement at 45 and achieved financial independence in just 10 years. He blogs on his website, Freedom Is Groovy, where this first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @FreedomIsGroovy.

More on financial independence and early retirement:

Retirement Weekly: A stock I own is soaring and I’m afraid to sell — or hold

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Q.: A stock I own just went over $50,000 in value. I bought it three years ago for $10,000 and I’m thinking its not going to stay above $50,000 but I’m not sure about that. I’ve come close to selling a few times but the stock just kept creeping up. I don’t want to lose and I don’t want to miss out. An adviser in my golf league says I should put a stop-loss order on it to protect the value. What do you think?

— Cam in Kissimmee

A.: Cam, a stop order would be neither a great idea nor a horrible one. The three issues are how well it allows you to participate in the upside, how well it protects the value, and the cost.

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Retirement Weekly: News and analysis for those planning for or living in retirement

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From MarketWatch:

These 7 Social Security myths just aren’t true, no matter how often you hear them: There are many untruths swirling around about Social Security, and believing any of them could potentially hurt you come retirement. Here’s what to know, and what to disregard.

How to live it up in retirement without outliving your money: One of Americans’ biggest fears is outliving their money in retirement, especially considering expensive health care and longer life expectancies. Those worried should consider how they withdraw their money when the time comes.

11 steps to a better retirement: The list of considerations to make when planning retirement is long, and include housing and taxes, required minimum distributions and medical expenses. Dig deep into these 11 factors of retirement to make it easier on yourself.

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Outside the Box: 16 ways to make life better for your spouse after you die

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I had an aunt who did everything for her husband. She paid the bills, invested their money and oversaw the family budget, plus she did all the household chores.

They both liked this arrangement. It worked for them. But as they grew older, people were concerned about what would happen to Uncle Bob if he outlived my aunt. He depended on her for everything. How could he take care of himself?

My uncle could not operate a washing machine, let alone manage his own finances. Friends had visions of him sitting in his house with no electricity or gas to power his lights and appliances, because he didn’t know enough to pay the utility bills. As it turns out, this never came to pass: My uncle died first.

You might imagine Uncle Bob was an extreme case of helplessness. But there are many Americans who struggle to manage the family’s financial affairs after the death of a spouse. Want to make it easier for your spouse or significant other to take over? Try these 16 steps:

1. Automate. Have all recurring bills paid automatically. That way, there’ll be no missed payments and all essential services will continue.

2. Emergency fund. Have a cash emergency fund that’ll cover six months of living expenses. If you’re the primary breadwinner, this would provide your spouse with much needed money for the initial months after your death.

3. Term life insurance. This offers low-cost financial protection. It’s especially important if you have children still at home.

4. Fixed costs. If your spouse suddenly has to cope without your income, low fixed monthly expenses will make it easier to meet the family’s financial obligations.

5. Consolidate. Combine your financial holdings at one or two financial institutions. This will make it easier for your spouse or significant other to locate and manage your assets.

6. Simplify. Construct an investment portfolio that requires little maintenance—by sticking with a few broad market index funds. Two benefits: There’s no need to make sell decisions on individual stocks and no risk of underperforming the market.

7. Financial adviser. Hire an adviser to manage your investments. This person could also provide guidance on broader personal finance issues—and assist your spouse in handling the family’s finances, should you die first.

8. Family. Inform your adult children or other trusted individuals about your finances, so they could then better help your surviving spouse.

9. Passwords. Tell your spouse where to find the usernames and passwords for all financial websites.

10. Documents. Make sure insurance policies, deeds, tax returns and all other important financial papers are stored in a safe and easily located place.

11. Beneficiaries. Review and update all beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

12. Trust and will. Consider having a revocable living trust drawn up, so all assets pass quickly and easily to your significant other after your death. This can also save money by avoiding probate.

13. Advance directives. Have in place powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions. These will allow someone to oversee your affairs if you become incapacitated.

14. Pension. Choose a survivor option for your pension, so payments to your spouse continue after your death.

15. Social Security. Make sure your spouse qualifies for survivor benefits. You must typically be at least age 60 and married for nine months. Contact the Social Security Administration for further information.

16. Funeral. Have a conversation with your spouse about what sort of funeral you want. This will avoid overspending at a time when money may be tight.

Dennis Friedman retired from Boeing Satellite Systems after a 30-year career in manufacturing. Born in Ohio, Dennis is a California transplant with a bachelor’s degree in history and an M.B.A.self-described “humble investor,” he likes reading historical novels and about personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @dmfrie.

This column first appeared on HumbleDollar. It was republished with permission.

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